MIAMI — Yasiel Puig’s two home runs Friday gave him 18 this season. He’s tied with the reigning National League MVP, Kris Bryant, and one ahead of the NL home run leader last season, Nolan Arenado. Among teammates, only Cody Bellinger has more.
That makes Puig an unconventional choice for the No. 8 spot in the Dodgers’ batting order, where Puig has spent most of the last month. That didn’t change Saturday and it might not change anytime soon, Manager Dave Roberts said.
“You look at the numbers, the production that he’s had, and the easy thing to do is put him right in the middle of the order,” Roberts said. “But I think the right thing at this moment is to stay the course, and I think that I’ve talked about the length in our lineup. I think it puts him in a good spot in the order. The results are there. There’s no reason to change right now.”
The Dodgers were down to their final strike Friday when Puig’s second home run sealed a 6-4 comeback win over the Miami Marlins.
Asked about his spot in the batting order after the game, Puig said through an interpreter that “I thought about talking to the manager, but I think I’ll stay there. As long as I’m in the lineup I’m fine.”
There is some precedent for what Puig is doing. Steve Yeager hit 16 home runs as the Dodgers’ No. 8 hitter in 1977. Puig has 11 home runs as the Dodgers’ eighth hitter this year.
“It’s actually a tough spot to hit because you’ve got the pitcher behind you for the most part, and you don’t know if they’re pitching to you, pitching around you,” Roberts said. “Where he’s at, the threat of damage and if they want to pitch around him, then we turn the lineup over. There’s a lot of benefits to having a guy that can handle being in the eight.”
Kazmir running out of time
Scott Kazmir is expected to make his next minor league rehabilitation appearance Sunday for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. The left-hander, on the 60-day disabled list with a hip injury, last pitched July 7.
By rule, minor league rehab assignments for pitchers can last up to 30 days. Saturday marked 20 days since Kazmir began his assignment. Progress has been slow.
“The velocity is still not where Scott wants it to be,” Roberts said. “I think he’s 87 to 89, so he’s trying to work through some things mechanically, staying behind the baseball.”
Kazmir is owed $16 million this year and next. That means trading the 33-year-old left-hander would be difficult,…