Mattingly believes Puig's power will return

Mattingly believes Puig's power will return

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig made a return from the disabled list on June 6, but his home run power has yet to return.

Entering Saturday, Puig was hitting .286 in 34 games this season, but his power numbers have declined, even going back to the second half of last season. The 24-year-old had three home runs this season and eight home runs in his last 555 plate appearances over his last 131 games.

"Home runs are not something I really worry about with him," manager Don Mattingly said. "I think he's more of a center field, right-center kind of hitter which fits more into his strengths. Him trying to pull home runs doesn't really fit into his strengths. I think they'll happen over time."

Puig mashed 19 home runs in 432 plate appearances as a rookie and had 11 homers in the first two months last season. But since, Puig has stayed in the park. Entering Saturday, it had been nearly a month since his last home run, which came on June 10 against Arizona.

"He's been hurt. I just don't think you can throw everything at him. Before he got hurt he had two in like 12 games, so he's off to a decent start," Mattingly said. "Then he got hurt, and that was an extended period of time. Home runs come in bunches and I don't worry about home runs, I worry about at-bats. I think they've been OK."

The Dodgers don't necessarily need Puig to lead the league in home runs. Even without his power this season, the club was first in the National League with 103 homers. Puig has hit anywhere from leadoff to fifth and Mattingly reiterated that Puig's strength doesn't lie with the long ball.

"He doesn't need to be worried about hitting home runs, he needs to be worried about hitting to right-center because that's his strength," he said.

Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.