LOS ANGELES -- Somebody asked Don Mattingly whether Yasiel Puig can maintain this .625 hitting beyond the first two games.
"I didn't think he could do it all spring training," Mattingly said. "I'm not going to say there's anything he can't do."
While Puig's impact has been the most dramatic, he's not the only young player helping the Dodgers in this modest uptick in their play. Catcher Tim Federowicz and outfielder Scott Van Slyke have taken advantage of opportunities created by injuries to veteran players and contributed.
Federowicz has two home runs and a double in three games this month. Van Slyke is second on the Dodgers with five home runs despite having played in only 18 games.
Just a few months ago, Van Slyke looked like a man without a future. He had been hoping to make the club as a fourth outfielder, but instead learned he had been taken off the 40-man roster when the Dodgers traded for veteran utility man Skip Schumaker. The Dodgers apparently soured on the 26-year old after he batted .167 in 27 games for them last year. He had a conversation with his father, Andy, a three-time All-Star outfielder in the 1980s that helped put things in perspective.
"He told me the first two years into his playing career, he still felt a little anxious," Van Slyke said. "It wasn't until his career accelerated that he began to feel less nervous. It takes time to feel comfortable in the big leagues."
Mattingly says he has noticed Van Slyke and Federowicz playing with more confidence this time up, particularly Federowicz. No argument from the players.
"I'm up there thinking through my at-bat a little bit instead of having the game speed up on me," Federowicz said. "I'm actually hitting the ball the way I do."
Here are lineups for Wednesday's game with the San Diego Padres:
1. Chris Denorfia CF
2. Everth Cabrera SS
3. Chase Headley 3B
4. Carlos Quentin LF
5. Jedd Gyorko 2B
6. Kyle Blanks RF
7. Jesus Guzman 1B
8. Yasmani Grandal C
9. Jason Marquis RHP
1. Yasiel Puig RF
2. Skip Schumaker 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez 1B
4. Hanley Ramirez SS
5. Andre Ethier CF
6. Scott Van Slyke LF
7. Juan Uribe 3B
8. Tim Federowicz C
9. Clayton Kershaw LHP