WASHINGTON -- No player can maintain the type of pace Yasiel Puig set during his logic-defying first month in the Major Leagues. The Dodgers' rookie right fielder finally has run into a snag in July, and on Sunday, manager Don Mattingly gave him a day off to rest and regroup in the team's series finale against the Nationals.
"I can't say I'm shocked this happened at some point, because it happens to everybody," Mattingly said. "The fact that we saw him six weeks in Spring Training and basically six weeks here and not really any of it, you kind of figured he'd get his hits all the time."
In 13 games since July 3, Puig is 12-for-54 (.222) with two doubles, no home runs, three walks and 19 strikeouts. He went hitless and struck out five times over the first two games of the Washington series, making him 0 for his last 11.
"He seemed a little lost the last couple days," Mattingly said. "He's kind of confused at the plate, so give him a day to watch."
Puig's slide began when he left a game at Colorado after running into the right-field wall and injuring his left hip. But Mattingly does not believe the slump is a physical issue, based on the way Puig is taking batting practice, running the bases and playing defense.
The issue lies with Puig's approach. In Mattingly's view, the 22-year-old isn't swinging at good pitches and is getting "caught in between" looking for fastballs or offspeed pitches. On Saturday, he seemed to be behind on several fastballs, despite his explosive bat speed.
"It's pitch recognition, but it's kind of what they're doing to him," Mattingly said. "He sees what they're doing to him, but he's caught in between on which way to go with it. But again, it's going to get back to swinging at strikes. You're looking for one or the other, but you still have to get a strike. Just because you get what you're looking for, if it's not on the plate, it doesn't really matter. It can be off a little, but it can't be way out of the strike zone."