Dave Roberts approached Yasiel Puig in the Dodger Stadium parking lot before Sunday’s game against the Rockies.
News of the death of Marlins star pitcher and Puig’s fellow countryman Jose Fernandez had shocked the baseball world just hours earlier. Roberts knew his right fielder was upset.
“Do you still want to be in the lineup?” Roberts asked.
Puig will bat cleanup and play right field for the Dodgers today, in a game that could lock up a fourth consecutive NL West title for Los Angeles. He told reporters he would dedicate today’s game to Fernandez.
Emotional moment for Puig pic.twitter.com/xXbhtsBpLg
— David Gottlieb (@BroadcasterDave) September 25, 2016
“Obviously there’s a lot of talk about this tragedy, but I don’t see any reason why that would affect us today,” Roberts said. “Major League players are built that way, to eliminate distractions once the game starts.”
Roberts turned his attention to Brandon McCarthy, who last pitched a month and a half ago. The starter only threw 1 2/3 innings and walked five in that game before being sidelined with right hip stiffness.
McCarthy threw a 75-pitch simulated game Tuesday, which Roberts said was “very good” with respect to velocity, secondary pitches and command.
With a magic number of one, Roberts called Sunday’s potential a clincher an “all hands on deck” game, noting that only young pitchers Julio Urias an Ross Stripling would be unavailable.
“It’s a big game,” Roberts said. “We’re still trying to win baseball games, not only just to clinch the division, but to keep going forward and keep that momentum going into the postseason.”