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Mattingly hints at roles for Ryu, Puig


PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Dodgers still have 32 exhibition games to sort out their roster, but manager Don Mattingly dropped some interesting tidbits Saturday.

For example, when he said that Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu was "just OK" in Friday's start, he added that Ryu "is a competitor for one of the five (starting) spots. Nobody's guaranteed anything in those spots. He controls his own destiny and we'll see where it goes."

Of course, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are guaranteed two of those spots if they remain healthy. Josh Beckett will probably get a third. If Chad Billingsley is healthy, it's hard to imagine him not being in the rotation.

So, maybe the Dodgers are considering opening the season with Ryu in the bullpen, leaving Chris Capuano (who allowed two earned runs, three total, in the third inning Saturday), Ted Lilly and Aaron Harang to compete for the fifth spot.

Mattingly also said that outfielder Yasiel Puig, the $42 million Cuban signing who was supposed to just get his feet wet this spring, "is fun to watch." Managers tend to feel that way when a player is hitting .389, as Puig is in his first professional Spring Training.

With Carl Crawford and his injured elbow on the shelf for a week, and Matt Kemp also being eased back into action after shoulder surgery, the 22-year-old Puig will continue to get playing time while management looks for more signs of last year's immaturity, or signs that Puig is suddenly growing up fast as a ballplayer.

"The guy looks good right now," said Mattingly. "He comes with high expectations. He made a good decision today stopping at second base [instead of trying for a triple], compared to the other day when he got thrown out tagging to second. We'll continue doing what we've been doing, getting a look at things like that."

But Mattingly countered the suggestion that Puig might stick with the big league club if Crawford isn't active on Opening Day.

"Then you have the best chance of somebody going in the wrong direction,"Mattingly said. "You can get yourself in trouble. He's still raw. You don't want to get a guy beat up. Maybe he doesn't struggle, but that's not usually the case. We don't have to make a decision right now."

Speaking of Crawford, Mattingly said the outfielder's elbow felt better, but he still is expected to be out a week. Crawford apparently responded quickly to anti-inflammatory medication.

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