Padres @ Dodgers June 3, 2013: PUIG.

June 3, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Posted in Game Threads | Leave a comment

dodger_stadium_2013_150x150There is a not-at-all small part of me that really considered naming this thread “Puigs @ Puigs, Puig 3, 201Puig,” with “Puig” listed in the lineups over there eighteen times like he was Bugs Bunny from the old cartoon. That should give you a small idea of the excitement that’s hanging over him tonight, to the point that they could replace “Dodgers” with “Puigs” on the front of the jersey and some fans would still find it slightly conservative.

Yet we must attend to business first, and there’s quite a bit of news. As expected, Stephen Fife has been recalled to take Chris Capuano‘s spot and start tonight. Carl Crawford heads to the disabled list thanks to his sore hamstring to make room for Fife. He is, sadly, expected to miss a few weeks, a length of time that increased from the expected “a few days” after his MRI came back. I know we’re all on a Puig high right now, but the loss of Crawford is enormous, and one that will be felt greatly for the remainder of the month. In better news, Hanley Ramirez is expected to return tomorrow, and so in all likelihood Fife is one-and-done no matter what he does tonight just like Matt Magill was yesterday; it appears Luis Cruz will survive yet again.

Van Slyke

But we’re not done yet with injury news, because Scott Elbert has been shut down after his elbow “flared up” after back-to-back outings with Chattanooga. He’s headed to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and almost nothing good ever comes out of that, so don’t expect to see him for a while. We still haven’t heard exactly what is ailing Mark Ellis as well, because he is out of the lineup for a second day in a row against a lefty starter. But so far there’s been no news on that front other than Ken Gurnick’s report that Ellis is “hobbled” but “wouldn’t say what’s wrong,” and he was seen taking batting practice today. Also, it’s worth noting that prospectus Zach Lee was named the Southern League player of the week.

All set? Good, because, PUIG!… and Don Mattingly is wasting absolutely no time getting him in the mix, hitting him leadoff. He’s the first Dodger to make his major league debut in the leadoff spot since Jose Offerman in 1990; current first base coach Davey Lopes did it as well in 1972. (As others have pointed out, Dee Gordon hit at the top in his first start in 2011, but it was not his debut, since he’d entered as a pinch-runner the night before.)

That seems… well, aggressive to me, but then again, it’s not like there’s a clear leadoff replacement with Crawford out. (Even our pal Nick Punto is beginning to see the effects of his obvious BABIP regression, seeing his batting average drop from .340 to .303 in barely more than a week.) Perhaps it’s countered a bit by the fact that he’s in his more natural position of right field rather than center, so that should help his acclimation. Then again, that comes with the obvious downside of having to have Andre Ethier play center tonight — and there’s a decent argument to be made that an outfield of Scott Van Slyke / Ethier / Puig is the worst defensive combo in baseball today — though Mattingly did say Puig would see time in center as well. (Mattingly also had this gem, to ESPN’s Molly Knight: “Oh I’ve known he was coming up for days I was just bullsh–ing you guys.” Love that.)

Fortunately, we can focus entirely on just how it is that Puig is going to manage a grand slam in his first plate appearance despite hitting leadoff without having to worry so much about potential extra-curricular activities — enemy of the state Carlos Quentin is not starting for San Diego tonight. That should hopefully mean that Puig at least gets to play in a second game, rather than getting arrested after probably using his linebacker frame to knock Jedd Gyorko or Will Venable or whatever poor Padre happened to get in his way clear into the Pacific Ocean in the inevitable bench-clearing brawl.

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