Dave Roberts on Puig benching: 'We talk about playing the right way'

ByDan Arritt ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was benched during an 8-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night because he failed to run hard out of the batter's box on a deep fly to right that caromed off the wall.

Puig was held to a single instead of getting an extra-base hit on the play.

"He needed to be on second base," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game. "We talk about playing the game the right way."

Puig was apologetic when asked about the play and agreed with Roberts' decision to lift him from the game.

"I thought it was a home run, and then I didn't run out the ball, obviously," Puig said through an interpreter. "It was [Roberts'] decision to take me out of the game. It was a decision well made, because all my teammates are out on the field working hard, and I should have run out that ball."

Puig, 25, came into the season with much to prove after his offensive production declined each of the past two seasons. He has been involved in a number of bizarre incidents both on and off the field.

Puig has done little to hold his place in a crowded outfield this season. He came into May hitting .250 and hasn't gotten above that mark since. His puzzling play continued Tuesday when he hit a deep fly to right in the sixth inning and began slowly walking to first. The ball hit the wall, and Puig was limited to a long single.

"It was a bad decision on my part," he said.

Puig flashed some of his ability moments later, however, scoring from second on a grounder that went off the glove of first baseman Joey Votto. Puig slid head-first into the plate to beat the throw, but his left hand hit the dropped bat just before it touched the plate.

Puig headed to the dugout showing some discomfort, and Roberts immediately engaged him in a lengthy conversation on the bench. Puig was replaced on defense the following inning.

In Sunday's 17-inning win against the San Diego Padres, Puig did not attempt to take third base in the ninth inning on a well-placed bunt by A.J. Ellis, who gestured in bewilderment toward Puig while jogging to first.

Had he advanced to third, Puig probably would have scored on an ensuing fly ball by Carl Crawford, but instead the game continued for another two hours.

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