Puig's emergence leaves Dodgers with tough call

Puig's emergence leaves Dodgers with tough call

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the Dodgers have 25 players better than Yasiel Puig, they're going to have one amazing team.

"I don't know about that," said manager Don Mattingly, who is starting to sound like management will find a place on the team for the 22-year-old Cuban sensation.

Mattingly also concedes that what Puig is doing this Spring Training defies comprehension after he went 3-for-3 while triggering two rallies, ran crazy on the bases and made a diving catch in a game he didn't even start against the White Sox, a 10-4 win on Saturday night.

"It's kind of getting goofy," said Mattingly. "It's almost like a big kid playing Little League."

The Dodgers came to Arizona figuring to give Puig a taste of a big league camp before sending him to Double-A for seasoning. But maybe he doesn't need it.

He's become the hottest hitter in spring baseball, a phenomenon who leaves his teammates shaking their heads in amazement while leaving the club trying to figure out how to shoehorn him onto a team with a $300 million outfield.

"I've seen a lot of great Spring Trainings," said Matt Kemp, "but never anything like this."

Mattingly reminded reporters that Puig hasn't been sent down for a reason. The reason is that he's hitting a staggering .547 (29-for-53), including 10 hits in his last 11 at-bats. He's scored 16 runs, nearly double the next closest Dodger (Dee Gordon, 9). He has 10 extra-base hits. And in 55 plate appearances, he doesn't have a walk, but he still has a .527 on-base percentage and a 1.414 OPS.

"One year [Yankees GM] Brian Cashman says, 'What are you going to do with Robinson Cano? He only walked 13 times,'" said Mattingly, then the Yankees' hitting coach. "The guy hit .340. I didn't know what to tell him, I really didn't. Everything he hits hard. What are you supposed to do with that?"

Just let him hit, apparently. Puig on Saturday stretched a line drive past the ear of pitcher Jake Peavy and into center field for a double. He shattered a bat for a single to right field and bounced a single to left field. He went first to third on a wild pickoff throw and robbed Dewayne Wise of extra bases with a diving catch near the left-field foul line.

"There hasn't been much he hasn't done," said Mattingly. "There's not much to say."

Puig didn't even start the game. He took over for Carl Crawford, who played the field for the first time since his August Tommy John elbow surgery, but went untested without a ball his way during his three innings. He'll be extended to five innings on Sunday.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.