The question is whether Major League Baseball will give him the chance.
Puig could be among the players suspended for a brawl earlier this week, but Hanley Ramirez is expected to return Friday night to try to help the Dodgers extend their dominance over the Pirates.
After being scratched from the starting lineup because of a strained right shoulder Wednesday against Arizona, Puig entered in the 12th inning and got a hit in his only at-bat in that 8-6 loss. The outfielder is batting .486 with four homers and 10 RBIs in his first 10 games but it's unknown when he'll get to add to those stats.
Puig was seen punching the back of Diamondbacks infielder Eric Hinske 's head in Tuesday night's brawl. He was also among four players hit by pitches before the benches cleared and was among the six who were ejected afterward.
"One thing we've learned from Yasiel is there's no half-speed," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's fast, hard and all the time, so I'm really not surprised."
MLB is expected to hand out punishments from that incident Friday and it's unknown which players will be available for the series with Pittsburgh (39-27). The Dodgers (28-37), losers in four of five, likely can't afford to be too short-handed because the Pirates enter having won 13 of 17 at home.
While Puig's status is unknown, Los Angeles is expected to have Ramirez in the lineup. A nagging left hamstring has limited the shortstop to a pinch-hitting role since June 5.
In his first start in a little more than a week, Ramirez will try to lead the Dodgers to their 19th win in 22 games against the Pirates. Los Angeles swept a home series with Pittsburgh from April 5-7.
Stephen Fife (1-1, 3.78 ERA) will also seek his second career victory in his first outing against the Pirates. The right-hander allowed two runs over a career-high 6 2-3 innings Saturday but was saddled with a 2-1 loss to Atlanta.
Fife has given up two runs or fewer in seven of his eight career starts but has received a combined 14 runs from his teammates.
It would appear that Fife would have a difficult time getting better run support Friday as Pittsburgh will send out Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.39).
The left-hander, moving up to take the injured A.J. Burnett's spot in the rotation, has earned a team-best five straight wins and has a 1.21 ERA in his last five starts. He gave up one run and one hit over 5 2-3 innings Sunday but also walked seven and did not get a decision in a 4-1 defeat to the Chicago Cubs .
Locke is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers, who handed him his only loss in 2013. He opened this season by allowing four runs over six innings in a 6-2 defeat in Los Angeles on April 7, but has since compiled a 2.08 ERA over 12 starts.
Pittsburgh hopes to bounce back from its most lopsided defeat of the season, 10-0 to San Francisco on Thursday. The Pirates managed three hits after producing 20 runs and 30 hits in the first two games of the series.
Andrew McCutchen has doubled in each of his last four games, and is 8 for 15 overall in those contests, but is batting .217 (5 for 23) in his last seven versus the Dodgers.
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||4||.500||2||0||0||1||0||.600||1.100||.500|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|June 12, 2013||Yasiel Puig||Day-to-Day||Strained shoulder|
|June 11, 2013||Scott Van Slyke||15-Day DL||Left shoulder bursitis|
|June 08, 2013||Ted Lilly||Day-to-Day||Neck discomfort|
|June 07, 2013||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 05, 2013||Ted Lilly||15-Day DL||Neck sprain|
|June 05, 2013||Mark Ellis||Day-to-Day||Groin injury|
|June 09, 2013||A.J. Burnett||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|June 06, 2013||Jared Hughes||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Wandy Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Left forearm tightness|
|June 03, 2013||Phil Irwin||60-Day DL||Right arm fatigue|
|June 03, 2013||Jeanmar Gomez||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|May 28, 2013||Jose Contreras||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Jeff Locke barely made the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation out of spring training, winning a battle with Kyle McPherson almost by default after McPherson struggled and a better option never materialized.
"You know when you break camp as the No. 5 guy, if something happens or if someone starts off hot down below you might be the guy that gets moved," Locke said. "It's kind of pitching to survive."
Something that's no longer an issue for him as the de facto ace for the injury ravaged Pirates.
The 25-year-old, who looks a couple days removed from high school, allowed two hits over seven innings as the Pirates silenced the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 on Friday night. Locke struck out five and walked one while needing just 75 pitches to get 21 outs.
Locke (6-1) barely resembled the guy who walked seven Chicago Cubs in his previous start, keeping the Dodgers off balance by working both sides of the plate and not being afraid of letting his defense do the rest as his ERA dropped to 2.19.
"He came to pitch," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Just very, very efficient. He made pitches the entire seven innings."
Jason Grilli worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth for his National League-leading 24th save. Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run double in the third inning off Stephen Fife (1-2) and gave the Pirates some insurance when he scored on a sacrifice fly by Neil Walker in the ninth.
The story, however, remains the soft-spoken left-hander from New Hampshire. Locke lost his first game of the year, a 6-2 defeat in Los Angeles on April 10. He hasn't been beaten since and appears to be growing stronger each time he takes the hill, a welcome development for a starting rotation in tatters.
A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez , James McDonald and Jeanmar Gomez all are on the disabled list, leaving Locke and veteran Francisco Liriano as the top-end starters for one of baseball's biggest first-half surprises.
If the spotlight is getting to Locke, it doesn't show.
"I wouldn't say (my) comfort level has changed at all," Locke said. "It's still uncomfortable. The confidence is definitely there. That's something I've gained into spring training and I've been able to carry it through the first half of the season so far."
Los Angeles didn't get a runner to second base while Locke was in the game, but had chances late to tie the game.
Pittsburgh reliever Mark Melancon struck out pinch-hitter Juan Uribe with runners in scoring position in the eighth. Yaisel Puig and Nick Punto hit consecutive singles off Grilli to start the ninth.
Grilli then retired Adrian Gonzalez , Hanley Ramirez and Mark Ellis to remain a perfect 24 for 24 in save opportunities.
"He threw eight pitches in that at-bat," Gonzalez said. "When I see eight pitches, I shouldn't strike out. I needed to put a ball in play and I should have. That was bad hitting on my part."
Something that's going around for Los Angeles, which has dropped five of six and is now a season-low 10 games under .500 (28-38).
The Dodgers played without manager Don Mattingly , who served a one-game suspension for his role in the brawl with Arizona earlier in the week. Bench coach Trey Hillman filled in and watched his team get handcuffed by a player who is making $497,500. The average salary on the Dodgers is nearly $10 million.
"(Locke) commanded three pitches pretty well and he pitched in a lot," Hillman said. "The fastball and the changeup were good and he kept us honest with the breaking ball all night."
McCutchen gave the Pirates all the offense they would need when he doubled to the corner in right field in the third, scoring Alex Presley and Russell Martin . Fife, making just his fourth start of the season, settled down and escaped without further damage when McCutchen was gunned down at home trying to score on a ground ball and Clint Barmes flew out to left with the bases loaded later in the inning.
Fife gave up six hits in five innings, walking three and striking out four.
"It was a battle the whole time I was in there," Fife said. "I just couldn't get that easy inning."
That wasn't a problem for Locke, who felt fresh after heading to the dugout in the middle of the seventh. He didn't put up any fight to stay in the game, not with the one-two punch of Melancon and Grilli available.
It almost backfired. Andre Ethier singled with one out in the eighth and Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled to the gap in left-center one batter later. Ethier held up at third rather than try to score, and it cost the Dodgers when pinch-hitter Juan Uribe struck out.
Pittsburgh added an insurance run when McCutchen singled leading off the bottom of the eighth and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Neil Walker .
Grilli made it stand up against the meat of Los Angeles' lineup.
NOTES: Locke singled off Fife in the third to end an 0-for-30 skid dating to last season ... Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis went 0 for 3 with 3 strikeouts in his return from the disabled list. He also threw out two would-be base stealers. Ellis missed 14 games with a strained oblique. To make room for Ellis, Los Angeles designated C Ramon Hernandez for assignment. Hernandez hit .208 with three homers and six RBIs in 17 games with the Dodgers ... The series continues on Saturday when rookie Brandon Cumpton makes his major league debut for the Pirates, replacing Burnett. Clayton Kershaw (5-4, 1.88 ERA) starts for Los Angeles ... Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell pitched two perfect innings in relief. Howell is appealing a two-game suspension for his role in the brawl with the Diamondbacks. Reliever Ronald Belisario sat out to serve his one-game suspension.