Puig out, Kemp in for Dodgers home opener
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig was scratched from the starting lineup after arriving late for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ home opener on Friday.
The rest of the team was already on the field stretching before batting practice while Puig was getting dressed in the clubhouse. He had been slated to start in right field for the afternoon game against the San Francisco Giants.
Instead, Matt Kemp replaced Puig after manager Don Mattingly had earlier said Kemp wouldn’t start. Kemp came off the disabled list on Friday, and according to Mattingly, Kemp was upset when initially told that he wasn’t in the lineup.
Kemp has been rehabilitating from left ankle and shoulder operations. He was limited to 279 games during the last two seasons because of injuries.
Puig, last year’s runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year, is 5 for 20 through the first five games of the season.
It was the latest in a series of frustrations for the team involving Puig.
Last week, Mattingly called a team meeting after the 23-year-old Cuban defector made two mistakes on the basepaths during the Dodgers opening two-game trip to Australia.
The dynamic right fielder became an instant sensation last year when he made his big league debut in early June and helped lead the Dodgers from last to the NL West title. But Mattingly often was frustrated by Puig’s decision-making in the field and on the bases.
Mattingly didn’t speak with reporters after the lineup change was posted Friday.
Puig twice was arrested for reckless driving last year, when his effort on the field came into question at times. He went 5 for 22 (.227) with 10 strikeouts and committed defensive miscues against St. Louis in the NL championship series.
He remains a fan favorite, but the Dodgers want to see Puig grow up, be consistent and show better judgment on and off the field.
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