Puig makes impression in Dodgers' camp

March 19, 2013

GLENDALE, Ariz.  -- The Los Angeles Dodgers were curious about Yasiel Puig at the start of spring training. They aren't anymore.

The 22-year-old Cuban outfielder is leaving no doubt about his talent.

Puig went 4 for 4 with a two-run home and a triple for the Dodgers in a 7-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.

Puig is hitting .500, a startling 23 for 46. The Dodgers see what everybody else sees. He's star in the making.

"It's a rare spring training game when everybody will stop to see somebody hit," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "But when he comes up, everybody stops what they're doing."

Everybody also is asking the same question about Puig. When? Now or later? A minor league assignment or a spot on the big league roster?

Neither Colletti nor manager Don Mattingly is prepared to say whether Puig will be on the roster on April 1 against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium or in the minor leagues.

"There are 12 days to go," Colletti said. "He still has a chance. He's still here."

If anything, the Dodgers are trying to temper what they say about Puig, who signed a seven-year, $42 million contract on June 29.

"I'm cautious, because he's creating an expectation he can't possibly fulfill," Mattingly said.

When asked about his chances at making the 25-man roster, Mattingly said: "That's something not to get into. I just know he's going to be really, really good. We'll do what's best for him."

The numbers appear to be against Puig, who says he won't argue with the decision he is forcing the Dodgers to make.

"I'll have to understand it," Puig said through an interpreter. "Where ever I go, God will be with me."

The Dodger outfield is already projected to have Matt Kemp in center field, Carl Crawford in left and Andre Ethier in right. Kemp is coming off shoulder surgery. Crawford, who was 1 for 4 in his third straight appearance Tuesday as a designated hitter, is working his way back after undergoing left-elbow surgery on Aug. 23, two days before the Dodgers acquired him from Boston. Crawford continued to work through throwing drills Tuesday. He believes he'll be ready for opening day. So does Colletti.

"Yeah, I think he'll be there," said Colletti, who couldn't say the same about Puig.

It's a big jump from spring training to a major league roster in regular season, Colletti said. The ball moves faster. The lighter are brighter.

"We'll see," Colletti said.

Puig, got things started in the first inning against A's starter Dan Straily with his third homer, a towering shot over A's left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes, a fellow Cuban.

"I let that pitch hang out there," Straily said. "That' what guys do with those kind of mistakes. I think I could have hit it out."

He singled in the third and the fifth. In an over-aggressive move on the base paths, however, he was thrown out at second on a throw from Cespedes. In the seventh, Puig tripled with a shot to left.

Cespedes countered with a solo homer over Puig, who was in left-field. Cespedes homered off Dodgers left-hander Chris Capuano, who pitched four scoreless inning before giving the run in the fifth.

Capuano started instead of right-hander Chad Billingsley. Billinglsey was scratched because he bruised his right index finger in a bunting drill Friday.

In 5 2-3 innings, Capuano, gave up five hits and struck out four.

"It was the best Cappy we've seen since last year," Mattingly said. "His tempo was good, crisp. He didn't leave the ball out over the plate."

NOTES: Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke is scheduled to throw Wednesday, probably in a minor league game at Camelback Ranch. Greinke is coming back from elbow inflammation. Greinke, who had an injection of platelet-rich plasma, hasn't pitched in a game since March 1. "We just want to control the situation," Mattingly said. .The Dodgers made three roster moves Tuesday. Infielder Justin Sellers and reliever Shawn Tolleson were optioned to minor league camp. Catcher Jesus Flores was re-assigned to the minor leagues.