If you ever played baseball or even softball and fouled a ball off of your foot or ankle, you know how painful that is. But even the mere thought of doing it twice off of the exact same spot in consecutive at bats brings tears to your eyes.
Such was the case for Yasiel Puig during Friday night’s game when he did exactly that in the 5th and 7th innings, both of which were off of his left ankle and both requiring an ‘injury delay’ (as MLB Gameday calls them).
There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do for you when you foul a ball off your foot or leg. There is no magic spray or pill that makes the pain go away and the only thing that a trainer or manager can say is “Are you all right?” (a really dumb question) or “Can you still play?” – not exactly what you want to hear as you are in agony for several minutes.
After the second occurrence, it was amazing that Puig was even able to complete his at bat, in which he flied out to right and limped noticeably as he more or less hobbled to first base for the third out of the inning. Puig was then removed from the game and replaced by Scott Van Slyke in right field.
During Mattingly’s post-game interview on Friday night, he told the gathered media that they wanted to play it safe and that Puig was removed as a precaution so they could get ice on his ankle right away. Mattingly added that they always take X-Rays for something like that and that the X-Rays were negative.
As expected, Puig was out of the lineup on Saturday evening’s game and during his pre-game interview Mattingly said that Puig was feeling fine today and that he (Mattingly) was just being cautious with Puig.
“We talked yesterday (Friday), we were talking about possibly giving him the day (off) today anyway,” said Mattingly. “I want him to play tomorrow (Sunday). It’s really being safe with him.”
But then something happened which changed the dynamics of Saturday night’s game. In fact, it is something that could very well change the dynamics of the entire post-season for the Dodgers – Matt Kemp aggravated his left ankle during pre-game warm-ups forcing Mattingly to scratch him from the lineup only five minutes before game time. It was the same ankle that Kemp had severely spraining on July 21 for which he missed 53 games. The Dodgers PR department describe it as “ankle soreness” and that Kemp was having trouble “getting lose” before the game.
Kemp’s late scratch forced Mattingly to shuffle his lineup by putting Skip Schumaker in center, moving Scott Van Slyke from right field to left field and inserting rookie Nick Buss into right. Interestingly, Puig was brought in to pinch hit in the bottom of the 7th inning striking out on three pitches, but he did not remain in the game.
After Saturday’s game, Mattingly said they were just being “precautionary” with Kemp, a word that Mattingly has been using quite a bit lately. He added that Kemp will sit out of Sunday’s regular season finale and that he (Mattingly) believes that Kemp will be ready when the NLDS begins on Thursday.
Asked if Puig’s bruised ankle was better, Mattingly said that Puig had come to him asking to play when Kemp had been scratched.
“(Puig) actually was begging to go tonight once Matt couldn’t go but we felt there was no real reason for it,” said Mattingly.
Mattingly did say that Puig would start in Sunday’s season finale.