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Dodgers Send Cuban OF Yasiel Puig Down To Minor Leagues

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Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and teammate Mark Ellis #14 celebrate a home run against the Kansas City Royals on March 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. (credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers and teammate Mark Ellis #14 celebrate a home run against the Kansas City Royals on March 15, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. (credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images)

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have sent outfielder Yasiel Puig and shortstop Dee Gordon to the minors.

The Dodgers moved Puig to Double-A Chattanooga on Tuesday. The 22-year-old Cuban leads major leaguers with a .526 batting average this spring.

Puig signed a seven-year contract for $42 million on June 29. The Dodgers already have Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford in their outfield.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he told Puig that he had a great camp. Mattingly also said he has a chance to be a great player.

“When we came into camp, this guy wasn’t even on the radar,” Mattingly said. “He kind of reminds me of a Ferrari. The body is there. The motor is there. It just needs a little paint.”

“It’s not like we’re sending him to Siberia. If he’s doing the same thing he was doing here, I’m assuming he won’t be there long.”

Gordon was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque. He was considered a possibility to take over while Hanley Ramirez is out for up to eight weeks with a thumb injury. But Mattingly decided to move Luis Cruz from third base to shortstop until Ramirez returns.

“I feel like Dee needs to be playing every day in Triple-A,” Mattingly said. “I feel like we rushed Dee a little bit last year.”

“Like Puig, we hope that the next time he comes up he’s ready to stay,” he said.

Mattingly also said that right-hander Chad Billingsley will pitch on Friday in a minor league game at Camelback Ranch instead of Thursday in an exhibition at Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Billingsley had a bullpen session Monday.

Mattingly said Billingsley had no problems with an injury to his right index finger, which he hurt on March 15 in a bunting drill. Billingsley still needs more innings of work, Mattingly said.

The move with Billingsley means Hyun-Jin Ryu is the likely starter on April 2 for the second game of the season against San Francisco at Dodger Stadium.

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