MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Dodgers hope Puig finds his game in Minors

Former All-Star has to show LA that he can get back to form before returning

Dodgers hope Puig finds his game in Minors

DENVER -- More than three years into his big league career, at the age of 25, Yasiel Puig remains filled with untapped potential.

Puig has survived the inconsistencies because of the dramatic moments he creates. Not anymore.

The Dodgers know there is the ability of a superstar within Puig, but they also are about winning now, and they have finally decided they can't wait on Puig any longer.

That's why Josh Reddick was in the starting lineup in right field for Tuesday night's game against the Rockies at Coors Field, one day after he was acquired from the A's along with starting pitcher Rich Hill in advance of Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

That's why Puig was left at home when the Dodgers embarked on the trip to Colorado, sitting out a 48-hour waiver period so that he can be formally assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. They want to see improvement in his approach on the field and off the field, both in the clubhouse and away from the park.

MLB Now looks at Puig's future

"When you talk about even a player's preparation, how they manage their injuries, those are things that blend the off field and on field," said Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi. "It's fair to say they go hand in hand."

The Dodgers aren't yet ready to wash their hands of Puig. They, however, have accepted the fact that Puig isn't ready to help them win a World Series for the first time since 1988, the longest drought the franchise has faced since it won a World Series in Brooklyn for the first time in 1955.

"We had a couple of goals at the Trade Deadline," said Zaidi. "One was to get another bat into the lineup, ideally in the middle of the order, and second was to reinforce our starting pitching. Obviously the trade with the A's, we believe addressed both of those. The production from right field hasn't been at the same level it has been in past year."

The primary right fielder for the Dodgers since June 3, 2013, has been Puig. He debuted as the runner-up for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, and in 2014, he found himself on the All-Star team. Things, however, haven't been the same since.

And on Monday, the Dodgers delivered Puig a wakeup call. He's going to have to earn another chance to wear "Dodger Blue". There are issues on the field and off the field that have to be addressed. It's time to find out how much Puig really wants to be in the big leagues.

That's why Reddick was in right field, hitting fourth, and Puig's future is anything but certain.

Rosenthal on Puig, Dodgers

"There was obviously a lot of thought that went into it from the organization, and the relative goal is we are here to win baseball games. And we had the opportunity to acquire Reddick, who we feel right now gives us the best chance to win," said manager Dave Roberts. "Yasiel being reassigned gives him an opportunity to work on getting better. For me, it's never to be mistaken how much we care for Yasiel and realize he has so much potential. But he needs to continue to work on a routine and consistent mechanics. Also, the overall growth of the person. That will also help him become a better baseball player."

Nobody has ruled out Puig's return to the Dodgers, but there also is no guarantee.

"I think it is certainly a possibility," Zaidi said of an eventual recall of Puig. "Beyond that, it is speculation."

What isn't speculation is the inconsistency that haunts Puig. And it was an interesting that on Tuesday night, the Dodgers played their first game since Puig was removed from the big league roster at Coors Field, where on April 22, Puig was a critical part of the Rockies' rally for a 7-5 victory.

In the bottom of the fifth, Colorado shortstop Trevor Story drove a ball of the right-field fence, and Puig, flat-footed in front of the warning track, threw a strike to third base, throwing out Story. There have been seven balls hit off that raised fence. The other six were triples.

With the game tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh, the Rockies scored the go-ahead run on a fly ball to medium right field off the bat of DJ LeMahieu, and Puig's routine throw home was so far off line that there was no play on Brandon Barnes, who tagged at third.

That wasn't an isolated moment.

"There are things on the field, off the field where he can continue to grow," said Roberts. "I'll leave it at that."

The challenge is for Puig to show the progress that has been missing the past three seasons.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.