LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig being limited is not "make or break" right now for the Los Angeles Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday, before the Dodgers faced off with the imminently available Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays.
"We have four starters, and coverage if we want with five guys on the bench, and he did run today and felt good, and on Sunday, so [he will be] available, but for me, it's not to the point where I want him in there," Roberts said.
Puig has struggled with hamstring issues the past two seasons, most recently tweaking his right hamstring against the Washington Nationals, after which he sat out five straight games.
Puig appeared as a pinch hitter on Friday in St. Louis. On Monday, the Dodgers had their first day off since the All-Star Break, and Puig is available to pinch hit against Tampa Bay, but will likely not run beyond first base.
Should he go on the disabled list, it would be his second stint there this season. He missed 17 gams in June with a left hamstring strain. In 2015, he had two month-long stays on the disabled list -- one for each hamstring.
Roberts also hopes that Andre Ethier -- on the shelf with a fractured tibia -- will be back at some point this season, but Ethier isn't pushing himself. Ethier did say, though, that he "owes it to the guys" to get back for a sustained run this season, not "just one week and aggravate it again." He's begun running, and doing lateral work -- shuffling and turning -- but has not tested his right leg by making turns around bases.
"I know that he's hopeful, and continues to improve, but not at a rate that we're excited about," Roberts said.
http://www.scout.com/mlb/story/1689659-kershaw-no-timetable Roberts also said that the timetable on ace Clayton Kershaw is still up in the air.
"He says he continues to be active with his exercises, but his timetable of his return, we're still where we're at, and he's not throwing," Roberts said.
Kershaw pitched a simulated game after the All-Star Break, with hopes that he'd be back off the shelf from his mild disc herniation during the second turn of the rotation coming out of the break. The lefty ace, though, said he began to experience discomfort during that simulated game.
Roberts said the club is "pretty excited and optimistic" about the NL West division race. Since the All-Star Break, the first-place San Francisco Giants have gone 1-8, while the Dodgers -- without Kershaw (11-2, 1.79 ERA, 145 Ks) -- have gone 5-4, winning three of their last four games.
"This past road trip was a tough one, and for us to win five of those games, we could have won a few more, but we came out of it pretty well," Roberts said. "It's good to be back home."
There is, Roberts said, a "sense of urgency."
"It's go time," Roberts said. "You start seeing the standings, and teams going in one direction, teams going in the other, we're focused on making a push here."
Welcoming the Dodgers home are the Rays, with Archer on the hill. The 27-year old righty is fifth in the Majors in strikeouts (147), but is 5-13 with a 4.60 ERA. With Kershaw out indefinitely, and a setback to lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu that landed him back on the disabled list (elbow inflammation), Los Angeles is in need of another arm, having gone with a four-man rotation since returning to action.
Before this season, Archer was 32-32 with a 3.33 ERA, and 562 strikeouts to 189 walks, a 1.188 WHIP and 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman oversaw Archer's development when he was the general manager of the Rays from 2005 until he left the Rays for Los Angeles, in October of 2014.
"I wouldn't say it's a try-out for Chris Archer," Roberts said. "He's got a pretty good track record, and there's a lot of things made of his relationship with Andrew and their history, but for us on the field, it's another opposing pitcher, another team, and we're trying to win a baseball game."
It being Japanese Heritage Night, Roberts, upon hearing some of the pregame strains of traditional Japanese music, smiled, "Oh, this is my jam. Well, actually, this is my mother's jam."
Roberts himself was born in Naha, Okinawa, Japan, to a Japanese mother -- Eiko -- and a U.S. Marine father, Waymon.