Puig working on swing while sidelined

Dodgers don't expect outfielder to need DL stint for tight left hamstring

Puig working on swing while sidelined

CHICAGO -- Yasiel Puig's name wasn't in the starting lineup prior to the Dodgers' series-closing 7-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday, which brought a new round of questions prior to the game about the outfielder's tight left hamstring.

It was the third straight game Puig didn't start because of the tightness, which first cropped up before Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Cubs, for which Puig was a late scratch. Manager Dave Roberts said before the game that Puig remains day to day, and the outfielder pinch-hit in the eighth inning on Thursday, striking out looking as the final batter starter Kyle Hendricks faced.

Roberts said that while a stint on the disabled list isn't being considered, he added that if the last three games were at an American League park where Puig could serve as the designated hitter, he would still not be starting due to the demands of running the bases.

"With Yasiel and the hamstring issues that he's had in the past, where he's at and where we're at in the season, it just doesn't make sense to push him," Roberts said. "I know that he would be open to trying to give it a go, but I think, for me, sometimes you've got to take it out of the player's hands and [do] what's best for him and the organization."

Puig appeared as a pinch-hitter in the Dodgers' 2-1 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday night, as well, lining out sharply to center field.

Puig pinch-hits in the 8th

"I don't think it affects his swing," Roberts said. "That's why we had him hit [Wednesday] night, and he had a good at-bat."

Puig, 25, is off to a slow start, hitting just .237 with five home runs and 20 RBIs through 53 games. He hit just .229 in May, with an uncharacteristically low .593 on-base plus slugging percentage, and he is just 2-for-14 on the Dodgers' road trip. Roberts said the time off might be good for Puig both mentally and physically, giving him time to reset his approach at the plate and work on his swing mechanics.

"He's working on his swing and, I think, also, just to get a few days away clears his head a little bit," Roberts said. "When we get back home, I'm hopeful that he'll be back in there [Friday], but again, it's a day-to-day thing."

Worth noting

• Roberts said Puig's injury situation could affect the arrival of utility player Scott Van Slyke, who's finishing up a rehab stint for his lower back irritation and is expected to rejoin the Dodgers at some point this weekend. If Puig can't start Friday's opener against the Braves, it's possible Van Slyke will be recalled for that game.

• Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who's coming back from offseason left shoulder surgery, had a slight setback after his latest rehab start. Roberts doesn't know when Ryu will make his next start.

"It was the day after [his start] when he felt some discomfort, so we had to taper back a little bit," Roberts said.

• First baseman Adrian Gonzalez and second baseman Chase Utley were back in the Dodgers' starting lineup on Thursday after getting a day off Wednesday, when the Cubs started left-hander Jon Lester. Roberts said Gonzalez wasn't thrilled with sitting but understood.

"It's funny, just the mutual respect we have for one another, and I've told him from the beginning that this is a decision I'm going to have to make that's best for him and the team," Roberts said. "We've got a long way to go. Is our team better with him in the lineup? Absolutely, but I think that sometimes to preserve him and his body, it's best for him and us [to rest].

Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.