Joc Pederson’s strong play could upset the apple cart.

Yasiel  Puig

Yasiel Puig went 0 for 3 with a walk and scored a run Monday night against Washington. (Getty Images)

Yas or Joc?

Puig or Pederson?

The debate existed only in theory two days ago, when Yasiel Puig was batting second and playing center field in San Diego, and Joc Pederson was still biding his time in Triple-A.

Now Pederson is here at Dodger Stadium, starting in center field while Yasiel Puig sits for the second time in his last five games.

Puig has two hits in his last 30 at-bats coming into Tuesday night’s game, with a right-hander (Doug Fister) on the mound for the Washington Nationals. Pederson — who struck out to end Monday’s game in his first major-league at-bat — is the reigning Pacific Coast League rookie of the year and MVP.

Mattingly downplayed the long-term debate by saying he would “pull (Puig) off and help him a bit, then give him a chance to get back in the water.” He said that Puig wouldn’t have to prove that he deserves the everyday center fielder’s job, but neither did he say when Puig’s next chance would come.

“I haven’t really thought about tomorrow,” Mattingly said. “Just putting it up today and see where we’re at.”

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Joc Pederson gets his first major-league start Tuesday against Washington Nationals.

Joc Pederson, who struck out in his first and only major-league at bat Monday, is in the Dodgers’ starting lineup Tuesday against the Washington Nationals.

Pederson is batting seventh and playing center field. Yasiel Puig has the day off against Nationals right-hander Doug Fister.

Yesterday, Puig batted sixth — the lowest he’s batted in a starting lineup in his brief career — and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly didn’t exactly downplay the pressure Pederson places on Puig.

Here’s the full lineup today:

Dee Gordon 2B
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Matt Kemp RF
Carl Crawford LF
Juan Uribe 3B
Joc Pederson CF
A.J. Ellis C
Clayton Kershaw P

Hanley Ramirez joins the Dodgers’ lineup at the last minute.

Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez takes a minute to get up after injuring himself turning toward second base during the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Friday. (Associated Press photo)

SAN DIEGO >> When the camera isn’t rolling, Hanley Ramirez prefers to work in the shadows these days.

In the clubhouse before the Dodgers’ game against the Padres, he politely informed reporters that he isn’t doing interviews. Less than an hour later he was in a dark corner of left field, the only portion of Petco Park not bathed in sunshine, where the Western Metal Supply Co. building casts its shade. It’s the same building into which Ramirez hit a 390-foot home run last night.

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‘Frustrated’ Yasiel Puig gets a day off against the San Diego Padres.

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig is 1 for 11 in his career against San Diego Padres starter Andrew Cashner. (Andy Holzman/Staff photographer)

SAN DIEGO >> Dodgers manager Don Mattingly benched slumping outfielder Yasiel Puig for the first game of the Dodgers’ series against the Padres.

Andre Ethier is starting in center field for the first time in six days.

Puig is hitless in his last 18 plate appearances. He’s also 1 for 11 against the Padres’ starting pitcher, right-hander Andrew Cashner. His .091 batting average against Cashner is the lowest against any opponent he’s seen at least 10 times.

“He seems frustrated to us,” Mattingly said. “Just felt the extra day, with the matchups, it seems like it was the right thing to do today.”

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Yasiel Puig will participate in All-Star series in Japan

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig will be among the major league all-stars who will play a team of all-stars from Japan in November, MLB announced today.

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington will manage the MLB club. All-Star Series games will be hosted in Osaka (Kyocera Dome), Tokyo (Tokyo Dome) and Sapporo (Sapporo Dome). Two exhibition games will complement the five-game series, with one game in Osaka (Koshien Stadium) and the other in Okinawa (Okinawa Cellular Stadium).

In July, Dodgers pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw said they would not participate in the series. Dee Gordon said he would.

So far, Puig, Albert Pujols, Adam Jones and Robinson Cano are the only participating players that MLB has announced.

Ned Colletti on impending trade deadline: “We may not do anything.”

Ned Colletti

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said there is a “small market” for trades to be made in the coming days. (Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO >> Despite rumors swirling around outfielder Matt Kemp, and the recent struggles of several veteran pitchers, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Saturday that “we may not do anything” between now and the non-waiver trade deadline of 1 p.m. Thursday.

“We have a club that’s solid, still has a lot of upside. Have we won four games in a row yet?”

No, remarkably.

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Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez return to Dodgers’ starting lineup.

SAN FRANCISCO >> Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig are in the Dodgers’ starting lineup for the first time since Saturday.

The pain in their injured left hands had subsided enough to allow both players to take batting practice Friday at AT&T Park.

“Yasiel the other day, we were cautious with him in Pittsburgh,” Mattingly said. “He pinch hit so we knew he was ready. Hanley, we were hoping today. He came in feeling good, so that extra day give him a better chance to be healthy.”

Ramirez is batting fourth and playing shortstop. Puig is starting in center field for the first time all season after playing only one inning at the position prior to today — the ninth inning Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

“He’s played it before,” Mattingly said. “He played it in Toronto (last season) and he played it at home a little bit. It’s not his first time out there.”

When pressed, Mattingly emphasized that the defensive alignment of Carl Crawford in left field, Puig in center and Matt Kemp in right is the best he can field given the Dodgers’ current personnel.

“At this point, it’s what it is,” Mattingly said. “It could be a day, could be a week, could be forever. I don’t think we really know. We know (Puig) is physically capable of handling that spot.”

Don Mattingly would consider moving Yasiel Puig to center field, keeping Matt Kemp in right.

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig has played 10 games in center field, all last season. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff photographer)

PITTSBURGH >> It was just a thought in the middle of a July game, but it’s one that could have lasting consequences for the Dodgers.

Manager Don Mattingly said that Matt Kemp looked so comfortable playing right field Monday that he entertained the thought of keeping Kemp there and moving Puig to center field.

“It made me think about it,” Mattingly said. “Just how comfortable Matt looked, it changes the combination of guys. So again, you’re always trying to put the best club out there, give yourself the best chance to win. It just popped into my head during the game last night.”
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Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez out; Paco Rodriguez optioned as Dodgers activate Josh Beckett.

Hanley  Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez did not taking batting practice Monday, one day after he was hit in the left hand and left shoulder by pitches in St. Louis. (Associated Press photo)

PITTSBURGH >> Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez are not in the Dodgers’ lineup for the second consecutive day.

The Dodgers will use the same lineup against Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Vance Worley that led to a 5-2 win Monday, with Matt Kemp starting in right field, Andre Ethier in center field and Carl Crawford in left. Before Monday, Kemp hadn’t started a game in right field since October 2009.

Puig was hit in the left hand by a Joe Kelly pitch on Saturday in St. Louis. Ramirez was hit in the left hand by a Trevor Rosenthal pitch Sunday. X-rays on both players revealed no broken bones, but they were still too hurt to take batting practice Monday. Puig was said to be closer to returning than Ramirez.

Josh Beckett was activated from the 15-day disabled list and will start the game for the Dodgers. Left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque.