Dodgers' benching of Yasiel Puig: Good move, bad follow-through

"Have we addressed this with him pretty much every day? Absolutely," General Manager Ned Colletti said Tuesday in a phone interview, later adding. "It's something that needs to be addressed — it's vital."

Colletti noted that Mattingly makes out the lineup card, so he couldn't comment on the actual benching, but he understands the problems.

"Some days he thinks he can outrun any baseball, and his arm is good enough that nobody can outrun him," Colletti said of Puig. "But that's not how it always works in the big leagues. He needs to understand how good the other players are."

Colletti said Puig is constantly reminded that not only do other teams have good players, they also have good scouts, and that opponents are now counting on capitalizing on his bold bloopers.

"We tell him, 'Teams are now playing us in a way that they sense you're going to make a mistake,'" Colletti said. "You would think that anybody's pride would get tested at that point."

Turns out, on Tuesday, it was the Dodgers' pride that was tested. After what happened, do they have the fortitude to bench him again?

There is one easy way out of this problem. That would be Matt Kemp. The Dodgers desperately need the return of the injured Kemp — giving them four outfielders for three spots — so Puig can be benched more often down the stretch and be allowed to grow more slowly into the game. Kemp could be back as soon as Sept. 1, and for Puig's development, it will not be soon enough.

Until then, they will have to carefully navigate this Yasiel Puig tightrope that stretches between the daring and the destructive.

On Tuesday, they walked about halfway, then fell on their faces. Dodgers win. Dodgers lose.

Twitter: @billplaschke


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