Is it time to throw any expectations for Yasiel Puig out the window? Or has that time already expired?
With four homers in his first five Major League games, the milestones and best-ever-to-start-a-career numbers keep adding up for the Dodgers' 22-year-old outfielder.
As the Dodgers host the Braves on Saturday night in the third game of a four-game series, the spotlight should continue to shine on Puig. The Dodgers have won four of five since he joined the club.
So what's next? One thing is clear: Puig will be sticking around, even when Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return from the 15-day disabled list.
"We know he can play right. He's played center in the Minors. And I've asked to have him shag in left field," said manager Don Mattingly. "I don't want to be stuck, so when everybody comes back we have multiple options."
While there always seems to be questions regarding the conversion of statistics and performance of players in foreign competition, that was no different when the Dodgers signed Puig, a Cuban defector, to a seven-year, $42-million contract last June.
Then came Spring Training, where Puig hit .517 with 10 extra-base hits in 58 at-bats.
Then he went to Double-A Chattanooga, where he had 12 doubles, three triples and eight homers over 147 at-bats while stealing 13 bases and posting a .982 OPS.
And then he arrived in Los Angeles, where Puig continues to make his presence felt.
"It's hard not to be impressed," Mattingly said after Puig became the second player in Major League history with a two-homer, five-RBI performance within the first two games of his career.
Puig set more firsts in Friday's 2-1, 10-inning win over the Braves, when his 10th RBI tied the Major League record for most in the first five games of a career with the Nationals' Danny Espinosa in 2010 and Jack Merson of the 1951 Pirates. And the only other player in the modern era (since 1900) with four homers in his first five games is the Mets' Mike Jacobs in 2005 (only four games).
Puig, whose RBIs have all come via home runs, was also intentionally walked for the first time on Friday, an event that might start occurring more frequently.
"We've got a good club and we've got a chance to make some real noise, if we can just get our guys back and get some rhythm going," Mattingly said. "Then you add [Puig] into the mix. It's just dynamic."
Braves starter Kris Medlen will be in charge of stopping Puig, who is 3-for-7 with two homers and five RBIs in two games against the Braves this series. After a slow start to the season, Medlen has found his command over his past four starts, when he's walked just five batters, allowed one home run and lowered his ERA to 3.14.
"We haven't really hit for him when he has started," catcher Brian McCann said. "But when you look at a [3.14] ERA, I think there are a lot of pitchers that would take that."
On the mound for the Dodgers is Steven Fife, making just his third start of the season as he takes the place of Josh Beckett in the rotation. The 26-year-old righty held the Padres to one run over 5 1/3 innings on June 3.
Braves: Freeman cleaning up
Freddie Freeman ranks third in the Majors with a .467 average (21-for-45) with runners in scoring position.
Freeman, who went 3-for-4 on Friday, has been one of the hotter hitters over the past few weeks, putting together a .356 average (31-for-87) over his last 22 games. He's had multiple hits in 11 of those games.
And he's hitting lefties much better this season. After batting .237 off southpaws in 2012, Freeman is hitting .323 against them in 2013.
Dodgers: Hanley plans to start
Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez expects to start Saturday night after missing his second consecutive game Friday night with tightness in the same hamstring that put him on the disabled list.
Taking his position may put his manager at ease.
"For me, it's a concern because it's two days," said Mattingly, "but Stan [Conte, medical director] doesn't; he thinks it's just something he's got to get through. I asked Hanley if he pulled it, and he said no."
Ramirez pinch-hit in the ninth on Friday and flied out to right, marking just his eighth game played this season.
• The Old-Timers' game will be played at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, and Dodgers.com will stream the game live starting at 5:20 p.m. PT.
Former Dodgers and Yankees greats scheduled to appear include: Ron Cey, Rickey Henderson, Davey Lopes, Darryl Strawberry, Steve Yeager and Fernando Valenzuela. Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda and actor/comedian Billy Crystal will manage the two clubs.
• The 15th annual Dodgers vs. Angels Booster Club's blood drive will take place on Saturday at select locations throughout Los Angeles. Fans who give blood will receive a commemorative T-shirt and a voucher for two tickets to either a Dodgers or Angels home game.
• The Braves' 2-1 loss on Friday marked just the fourth time in 29 games this season that they lost after scoring first.