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Yasiel Puig rolls with demotion

3/29/2013

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. -- When the Los Angeles Dodgers optioned Yasiel Puig to Double-A Chattanooga after he batted .526 in the Cactus League, they didn't expect the 22-year-old prospect to be turning cartwheels.

"He didn't seem that happy about it," manager Don Mattingly told reporters in Arizona. "You don't really want guys to be happy that they're being sent out."

With a couple of days to cool off and reflect, Puig seemed to be taking the news in stride. In Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday to play against the team he finished the 2012 season with, Puig said he understood the Dodgers' motives. They have All-Stars -- well-paid All-Stars -- at all three outfield spots.

"I've got respect for the outfielders we have. I realize they're good players," Puig said.

He didn't, however, say he agreed with the decision. That also probably isn't a bad thing.

The Dodgers would like Puig to work on his plate discipline, his baserunning and his defense in the minor leagues. If they have an injury to Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier at any point this season, he would be only a phone call away. Asked what he needed to improve on in Chattanooga, Puig paused for what seemed like a full minute.

"I don't know," he said. "I'm going to go to Double-A, work hard, do what I'm told and play hard."