The Dodgers left Australia with an early two-game lead over the Diamondbacks in the National League West standings, but the long plane ride home probably won’t have a completely celebratory vibe.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was removed from Sunday’s 7-5 victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground after appearing to injure himself on a hard swing in the top of the ninth inning. He did not take his usual place in right field for the bottom of the ninth, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly seemed irked with the second-year major leaguer in both his pre- and post-game chats with the U.S. and Australian media.
Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has more:
Before the game, Mattingly told reporters that Puig “grabs something every time he takes a swing and misses.”
Asked what injury caused Puig to leave Sunday’s game, Mattingly said, “I guess his back.” He then seemed to react sarcastically when asked about the severity of the injury.
“Shoulder yesterday, back today, so I’m not sure if they’re going to get him tests or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe,” Mattingly said. “I’m not quite sure what we’ll do. We may not do anything. I’m not sure.”
Puig showed up to Dodgers camp this spring 26 pounds heavier than he was at the end of the 2013 season and he made two ugly baserunning gaffes in Sunday’s game. But he also went 3-for-5 with two RBI.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.