ST. LOUIS (AP) — Slumping All-Star Yasiel Puig was benched by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for Game 4 of their NL Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“What can I do? I wasn’t in the lineup,” Puig said through an interpreter. “That was a decision they made. Whether it was the manager’s decision or anyone, they made that decision.
“Now it’s my responsibility to be supportive from the dugout.”
Manager Don Mattingly said he thought Andre Ethier was a better option. Eithier often has been the odd-man out in a crowded outfield.
“He’s healthy,” Mattingly said of Puig. “Pretty simple today: We just feel like this gives us the best chance to win today, just the best chance to win today.”
Mattingly said it was difficult to read whether the 23-year-old Puig was pressing.
“It’s just confidence,” the manager said. “I can’t tell you that he’s not confident or that he’s overly confident or anything. So that’s a question for him.”
Puig struck out seven consecutive times before he tripled and scored the tying run in the Dodgers’ 3-1 loss on Monday night, which gave St. Louis a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. He is batting .250 in the series, going 3 for 12, with eight strikeouts.
“He just had a tough game,” closer Kenley Jansen said. “But Yasiel, he’s learned a lot, I feel like. He’s been doing much better in the postseason, even though the numbers don’t show, probably.”
Cardinals pitchers handled him last year in the NL Championship Series, too, holding the rookie to a .227 average with 10 strikeouts in 22 at-bats.
Mattingly hedged about whether he’d hesitate to use Puig off the bench.
“We’ll use whatever the game calls for. That’s what we will do,” the manager said. “You can’t sit here and say ‘This guy is not going to play.’ That’s not what this is all about.
“If he’s part of the equation of trying to win a game, he’ll be in the game.”
The 32-year-old Ethier was listed to play center field and bat sixth in place of Puig against right-hander Shelby Miller. Ethier was 1 for 2 in the series and 2 for 6 this season against Miller.
Puig batted .296 with 16 homers, 69 RBIs and a .382 on-base percentage. He had three homers and 10 RBIs during September.
Ethier batted .249 with four homers and 42 RBIs in 331 at-bats, fewest by two among the Dodgers outfield quartet. Ethier had three starts in September, including the last two games after the Dodgers clinched the NL West.
“One reason why Andre’s not playing every day is we have an abundance of outfielders,” Mattingly said. “Nothing bad about Andre. We’ve got more than enough everyday outfielders.”