When Los Angeles Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract, it raised plenty of eyebrows and created plenty of intrigue. At the time, not much was known of the Cuban defector — namely, how Puig managed to escape from Cuba. In the May issue of Los Angeles Magazine, Jesse Katz provides details of the harrowing measures Puig went through to reach the shore of Mexico.
Katz’s account, some of which is based on court records, tells a tale of a drug cartel getting involved and death threats, among other eye-opening accounts. According to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly acknowledged he read Katz’s feature and is naturally concerned for Puig’s well-being:
If you care about Yasiel, you worry about it,” Mattingly said. “There’s some serious stuff that he has to deal with. I think you have to worry about it if you care about him as a person. You worry about what he’s going through.”
The Dodgers organization has been quiet on the matter, therefore it is unclear how much they knew, if anything, at the time of Puig’s signing. Mattingly told Saxon he was completely unaware and first learned of the background through a phone call with general manager Ned Colletti on Tuesday:
If it was news to anyone above me, I don’t know that, but it was definitely news to me. I think it was news to anybody in our clubhouse.”
Puig supporters have referenced his upbringing as a means to aid in understanding why the outfielder may still make mistakes that generally aren’t expected, nor permitted, from a professional baseball player. Since joining the Dodgers, Puig has refused to speak on his journey out of Cuba and issued a statement through his agent on Wednesday, which mentioned his focus being on helping the Dodgers.
Though Puig isn’t the first, nor likely the last baseball player to escape from Cuba, his story will presumably continue to take center stage as the mystery behind it captivates those in search of more information and clarity.
Dodgers Story: Yasiel Puig’s Shocking Escape From Cuba