Want to light a fire under baseball phenom Yasiel Puig? Just bench him.
Held from the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting lineup Tuesday night, manager Don Mattingly described the decision as a one-day move made because of the rookie's slump.
However, when Mattingly decided to bring him in to play right field in a double switch in the sixth inning, Puig responded by hitting a tiebreaking home run in the eighth to help the Dodgers to a 6-4 win against the Miami Marlins.
The 22-year-old Cuban was late arriving at the ballpark for pregame drills, but Mattingly said the decision to sit him had already been made.
"Yasiel has been struggling," Mattingly said. "Actually the whole front part of our lineup has been struggling. And it just seemed like the right time."
Before the homer, Puig was hitless in his past 11 at-bats and batting .171 (6 for 35) over his past nine games, dropping his average to .351.
Puig received a standard fine for his late arrival, Mattingly said, and was summoned for a closed-door meeting with the manager.
Puig has a home in Miami and said he encountered heavy traffic during the drive to the ballpark.
"He left a little bit late," Mattingly said.
Puig was replaced in right field by Skip Schumaker. It was the fifth game Puig hasn't started since his major league debut June 3.
He has emerged as a top contender for NL Rookie of the Year while leading the Dodgers' surge to the top of the division. He also has been criticized for poor throws from the outfield, baserunning mistakes and a brazen demeanor.
Puig erupted angrily after being called out on strikes Monday against the Marlins, arguing with the umpire and continuing his tirade in the dugout.
"That's just emotion," Mattingly said. "That's just the way he's going to play. I don't want to take that emotion from him. I like the energy he plays with."
However, Mattingly said Puig needs to convey his objections to umpires differently.
"They're going to talk, and any call that's close, he's not going to get," Mattingly said. "You want him to learn the umpire language. There's a way to talk to those guys and act around those guys. That's part of the maturing process for him too.
"All the things we see are part of the maturity of a guy coming from a different country who is in the major leagues all of a sudden and having huge success. And part of our job is to help him mature and handle all that, and I don't know if we can do that overnight."
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.