9/2/2014 1:36 A.M. ET
Dodgers put prospect Pederson right into fire
By Michael Lananna / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Joc Pederson had the stage, had the drama, had family in the stands, had everything he needed Monday to make his first Major League at-bat the stuff of legend -- a true Hollywood debut.
Pederson even had a pitch to hit -- a 2-0 fastball right in his wheelhouse. The left-hander ripped it with the kind of swing that earned him top-prospect status -- that earned him the faith of his manager to send him to the plate with two outs in the ninth, with the tying runs on base.
But the ball hooked foul. It landed harmlessly in the right-field corner, and Nationals closer Rafael Soriano made sure Pederson wouldn't get a chance to hit one straighter. The right-hander spotted a 3-2 slider on the outside corner. Called strike three.
Pederson, the club's No. 3 prospect, had his first Major League at-bat end a 6-4 Dodgers loss.
"We get down to the point where you have to try to win the game," manager Don Mattingly said. "And Joc's the guy for that right there. He's a left-handed hitter, he's a guy who can hit a ball in the gap, score a run.
"It would've been nice of him to hit a double. That ball he hits foul, I would've loved to see it go in the corner. I'd love to see him hit a home run to win the game or at least get on to extend the inning."
But it didn't happen. Pederson, who was called up before Monday's game with rosters expanding, said the ball he lined foul was one he shouldn't have missed, one he'd like to have back.
But he said he didn't shy away from the moment. The 2014 Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player said to be able to make his debut in that kind of pressure situation was "pretty special."
"That's when you want to be up there, when the game's on the line, whether it's in [Triple-A] Albuquerque or here," Pederson said. "You want to be in when the game matters. You want to have the chance to win the game."
"For us, everybody in the dugout was excited," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "For him, it's a great situation for him to experience that. He put a great swing on the ball, it just hooked foul little bit. He looked calm. He looked comfortable.
"I think he'll look back and he'll probably never remember his first at-bat with the success he's going to have."
The Dodgers also made use of three of their other new faces Monday:
• The club's No. 15 prospect, Yimi Garcia, a 24-year-old right-handed reliever, made his big league debut in the loss, tossing two innings of scoreless relief.
• Infielder/outfielder Alex Guerrero was back with the Dodgers for the first time since the team's opening series in Australia, and he made a pinch-hit appearance Monday night that resulted in a strikeout.
• Right-hander Chris Perez (right ankle bone spurs) came off the disabled list and made his first appearance since Aug. 3 when he came on in relief of Roberto Hernandez in the fifth inning Monday night.
Pederson, a 22-year-old center fielder, was the PCL's rookie of the year and became the fourth player in 112 years of the league's existence to post a 30-home run/30-steal season -- the first since 1934. Overall, he batted .303 with 30 steals, 33 home runs -- tops in the league -- and 78 RBIs in 121 games with Albuquerque.
To make room for Pederson on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated infielder Carlos Triunfel for assignment.
Catcher Tim Federowicz also is back for this third stint with the Dodgers after appearing in 18 games earlier this season, and Mattingly said he expected infielders Miguel Rojas and Erisbel Arruebarrena and right-hander Carlos Frias to join the team as soon as Tuesday.
Slumping Puig moved to sixth in batting order
LOS ANGELES -- Looking to jump-start a slumping Yasiel Puig, manager Don Mattingly dropped his center fielder to the sixth spot in the Dodgers' batting order for Monday's series opener against the Nationals.
"Just hopefully he'll relax and get back to what he does," Mattingly said. "Wanted to take little pressure off of him and just allow him to be in a spot with a little less pressure."
Puig went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in the 6-4 Dodgers loss.
Puig entered the night 2-for-27 over his prior eight games, striking out 10 times and lowering his average to .298. He batted .216/.296/.247 overall in August.
Mattingly said the nature of Puig's at-bats will tell him whether or not he's snapping out of his cold spell.
"He'll be hitting some balls hard," Mattingly said. "You can just see a guy when he gets his feel back. That changes quickly. It changes at any moment. It changes with a take or one swing, and all of a sudden the guy will be hot again."
"We talk about it with Adrian [Gonzalez]. You see it with him. He struggles for a little while, next thing you know, boom, he's off and running. You see the confidence come back in guys, and that's what we're looking for."
Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.