Puig pinch-hits after missing five games

Off-days allow club to be cautious with right fielder's hamstring

Puig pinch-hits after missing five games

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig appeared off the bench in Friday's 9-7 win over the D-backs, his first time on the field since leaving the game on July 21 with hamstring tightness.

The appearance effectively removes any chance of the outfielder hitting the DL, as the Dodgers are no longer able to make a placement retroactive to the time of the injury.

Puig's time out effectively left Los Angeles with a short roster for eight days. That disadvantage had been mitigated by the team only needing a four-man rotation thanks to off-days on Mondays and Thursdays, giving them five spots on the bench instead of the usual four.

The Dodgers had been carrying a four-man bench for much of the season, caused by a need for an eight-man bullpen that was, in turn, a product of the rotation's inability, except for Clayton Kershaw, to go deep into games.

Before the game, manager Dave Roberts ceded that Puig would probably have been on the DL without the extra bench spot, but said afterwards that Puig was near a full return.

"We've given him seven days to come back, he's almost there, but again, [Andrew] Toles is playing well," Roberts said. "If we can nurse [Puig] to complete health and still get production from our right fielder, that's a good thing."

Another player who won't likely need the DL is Adam Liberatore, who had been unavailable since Sunday with a knee issue. Liberatore made a one-batter appearance Friday, walking Brandon Drury and recording an earned run for a second straight game. That comes after a streak of 28 straight scoreless appearances.

Brett Anderson pitched three innings Thursday for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga, throwing 36 pitches. Roberts said a five-inning start with either Triple-A Oklahoma City or Rancho again will be next.

Kershaw still hasn't picked up a ball, but told Roberts he feels he can return this season.

"There is no hard date, but for him to be optimistic about coming back, I think that's a good thing," Roberts said. "I'm not going to hold him to a particular date, but I do know that he's going to do everything he can to get back."

Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.