Since signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig has been under heavy scrutiny. Signed to a seven-year, $42 million contract, large expectations were heaped on Puig’s shoulders before he took the field for a minor league game. Outside perception has painted the picture that Puig is a lightning rod that is out of control and above adhering to the fundamentals of baseball. In a recent poll conducted by ESPN, Puig finished second in voting as the most overrated player.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly recently voiced some of his frustration with the outfielder’s struggles at the plate and tendency to claim injury. Mattingly later clarified his comments and the Dodgers held a team meeting, reportedly at the behest of Puig, where the Cuban outfielder asked for his teammates help with his development.
On Tuesday, Dodger first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, joined ESPNLA Now with Mark Willard on ESPNLA 710 radio and Puig was among the topics discussed. According to Gonzalez, the Dodgers are aiding the outfielder with the nuances of the game:
We are teaching him the game. Teaching him things to do and not to do.”
One of the issues Puig struggled with last season was routinely overthrowing the cutoff man. Dating back to spring training this season, Puig has improved in throwing the ball low enough for it to be cutoff. On two occasions against the San Diego Padres in Sunday’s loss, Puig hit the cutoff man without issue.
As for the notion that the Dodgers may have grown tired or frustrated with Puig’s antics, Gonzalez offered his perspective via ESPNLA 710 radio:
Our relationship is incredible.”
Just 23 years old and relatively inexperienced at the big league level, Puig does have areas of his game that need refining. Despite what public perception may be, by all accounts Puig’s teammates are willing to aid and help guide him in the right direction. Puig certainly won’t be perfect from here on out and any mishap will likely draw more attention than normal, but his request for the team meeting and Gonzalez’s comments are a good indication the situation is being handled in a productive manner.
VIDEO: Dodgers Nation Interviews Yasiel Puig