The enigma that is Yasiel Puig took another turn Wednesday night as a report surfaced that Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called a team meeting to address some of Puig’s shortcomings in Australia. Puig was the focus of Mattingly’s criticism before and after the Dodgers’ 7-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mattingly appeared agitated with the Cuban’s base running errors and tendency to claim some form of injury when things don’t go in his favor at the plate.
Prior to holding a team workout on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, Mattingly told reporters he met with Puig and the two sides had resolved any lingering issues that may have existed. However, according to ESPN LA’s Ramona Shelburne, the meeting included teammates and was not solely between Mattingly and Puig as initially believed. Contrary to what may be the public perception of Puig, the outfielder was open to getting help from his teammates, according to Shelburne:
I asked them to please keep helping me, Puig told ESPN. Specifically with baserunning and hitting my cutoff man. I want them to help me with everything they can.”
Prior to stepping foot in the majors, much less the Minor Leagues, Puig elicited strong opinions that were more times than not on opposite ends of the spectrum. A common criticism was Puig, a player with such little experience, didn’t deserve the seven-year, $42 million contract the Dodgers signed him to. Not helping the matter was Puig’s brazen style of play and attitude, as he contradicts nearly every baseball “rule” that’s been set forth.
What has often gone overlooked is the Cuban culture and control Puig hails from. His upbringing wasn’t like that of most MLB players, which is a factor that an unnamed teammate touched on, according to Shelburne:
Puig’s a good kid. He just didn’t come up through the system like we all did, a veteran teammate said.
As a polarizing figure, Puig still has a ways to go before the general public relents on the criticism and his mistakes are no longer national headlines. Puig had a rough Spring Training at the plate, but he did show improvement in hitting the cutoff man; however that went largely unnoticed due in part to the Dodgers’ network not yet being widely available.
So long as Mattingly, who is regarded as a player’s coach and Puig’s teammates are able to address issues with him, which Puig seems open to, his development should continue and hitting the cutoff man will no longer be a story but rather a routine moment.
ICYMI: Yasiel Puig talked about his time adjusting to life in the big leagues