Puig gives Dodgers reason for optimism

Right fielder's mechanical adjustments paying off

Puig gives Dodgers reason for optimism

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers are ever hopeful that Yasiel Puig fulfills his offensive potential, so his productive game Friday night gave manager Dave Roberts an upbeat takeaway from a crushing walk-off loss to the Padres.

"I think his approach was better," Roberts said, after Puig slugged a two-run homer, singled and scored twice.

"He's been working on mechanics. To see him hit a baseball to right-center field like he did [for the home run] and a first-pitch curveball laced to left field, that was good to see. It seems like his pulse is better. He's swinging at strikes and taking balls. When he's in the strike zone he'll be a lot more productive."

Puig opened the season with a six-game hitting streak and a .455 average, which has since plunged to .242. More telling, however, is that he walked five times in the first seven games, but only twice in the next 35. His early patience has been replaced by an aggressiveness that has him swinging at the first pitch of nearly every at-bat.

"When you're aggressive, it gives you a better opportunity to take a pitch not in the strike zone," said Roberts. "It's kind of counter-intuitive, as far as being ready to hit a strike, then your body position is in the right position to stop on the baseball. So, it's a yes, yes, no approach instead of, I'm going to swing at anything moving forward. Sometimes he gets in that mode. But if he's swinging at first-pitch strikes, it's OK."

Roberts said Puig has worked with hitting coach Turner Ward on mechanics, increasing the leg kick, while stressing an improved path toward the pitch and the middle of the field.

"He gets a little, sometimes, rotational," Roberts said. "They've worked every day to work things out. It ultimately comes out to getting a good pitch to hit. He wants to do it. It's the repetition, when a player wants to get better and through video and conversations there's an adjustment, Yasiel's been completely receptive. When you have that it makes a coach's job a lot easier."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.