Yasiel Puig homers after fine

Updated: August 21, 2013, 8:31 AM ET
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com

MIAMI -- Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig violated a team rule by showing up late at Marlins Park on Tuesday before the team's game with the Miami Marlins and was fined by the team, according to manager Don Mattingly.

Puig also was summoned to Mattingly's office for a closed-door meeting and was not in Tuesday's lineup, though Mattingly said that was for baseball reasons and that he had decided on his lineup before he knew Puig was going to be late.

Despite not starting, Puig made his presence felt in Tuesday's game, hitting a go-ahead leadoff homer in the eighth inning as the Dodgers avoided a third straight loss with a 6-4 win. He earlier entered the game as defensive replacement.

Puig told Mattingly he got caught in traffic. He walked into the Dodgers' clubhouse wearing street clothes at about 4:50 p.m. Players are required to be at the stadium by the time the second team bus arrives from the hotel, about 4:15 Tuesday.

"I'm satisfied with the answer, but it doesn't make it better," Mattingly said. "You've just got to leave earlier. You get caught in traffic or whatever, it's easy to say that, but it's kind of like, 'OK, that's fine, but you're still late.'"

Mattingly did not disclose the amount of the fine. He has discussed giving Puig a day off before Tuesday. Puig, batting .351 for the season, has hit .171 with 10 strikeouts and one RBI in his past nine games.

"I knew we'd make more of it, but today was more of a baseball day. I was close to doing it the other day," Mattingly said. "It's hard to take him out of the lineup, honestly, because it changes our lineup. But it just felt like the right time. I feel like today, the way he's going and the way things are going, I think this lineup gives us the best chance to win today.

"I look at it as a one-day thing."

According to team sources, some Dodgers have become frustrated with Puig's fundamental lapses and his inability to correct them. Sunday in Philadelphia, Puig overthrew a cutoff man, allowing Domonic Brown to take second base. That caused Ricky Nolasco to pitch to Darin Ruf differently and he walked him, helping fuel the rally that led to the tying run. The Dodgers lost 3-2, snapping their 10-game winning streak.

Puig also erupted at home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck after one borderline strike call during a three-pitch strikeout against fellow Cuban Jose Fernandez on Monday night and had to be escorted from the dugout by teammates to prevent him from being ejected.

"We don't have any problems with Yasiel in the clubhouse. He's a good kid," Mattingly said. "Really, there are no personal problems. His problems come from mistakes that we want to correct."

Puig declined to speak with reporters, as he often does before games.

This week is Puig's first chance to play in front of family and friends in the Miami area, where he lives in the offseason. After he defected, he was able to get his parents out of Cuba, as well.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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