<
>

Yasiel Puig is impressing in the clutch

5/8/2014

LOS ANGELES -- Most of Yasiel Puig's strides this season have come while playing right field, but one major adjustment as a hitter is beginning to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers' attention. Puig, who often tried to do too much with runners on base last season, has become one of the best clutch hitters in the game.

A year ago, Puig -- who hit .319 overall -- batted .234 with runners in scoring position and .259 with men on base.

This season, he is hitting .405 with runners in scoring position and .396 with runners on. He also has a higher on-base percentage and is on a pace to obliterate the 42 RBIs he accounted for last year. Puig has driven in 22 runs in 29 games. Last year, he drove in 42 runs in 104 games.

"Yasiel has shown that he's turned into an RBI guy. He's been more patient at the plate, he's gotten himself better pitches to hit, so I think in the long run, Yasiel is a third or fourth-type hitter," Mattingly said. "He is that [Mike] Trout guy. He's showing us that he's moving in that direction."

For the moment, Mattingly said, Puig will stay in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for the most part. The rationale: The Dodgers are happy with Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez as their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters and batting Puig fifth bottles up his speed behind the lumbering Gonzalez.

The Dodgers appear to be settling on a more set outfield, with Puig and Matt Kemp generally mainstays and Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier alternating starting the game on the bench. Ethier was the odd man out Thursday against San Francisco Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong. Crawford is on a 10-for-17 streak.