Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was selected as a starter for the National League All-Star team this season. In his second year in the Majors, Puig is hitting .300 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs.
However, since June 1 the Dodgers’ slugger has hit just two home runs with 19 RBIs and was given the night off Friday as the Dodgers began a three-game series in San Diego.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire discussed Puig’s lack of home runs:
Where has it gone?” McGwire repeated with a laugh when asked about Puig’s power. “You know what — he got off to a fast start with home runs. Once you do that, people think you’re a home run hitter. But really it’s all about pitch selection and patience. He’s shown some great stretches with patience and he’s shown some stretches where he’s not patient at all.
McGwire then said Puig at times tries to do too much, which could be related to him still being young:
You have to hit strikes. When you simplify the game and stay within your zone, you can get pitches to drive like that. Sometimes he just gets out of that mode and tries too hard. We can’t forget that he’s a very young hitter. And young hitters that aren’t really home run hitters that come out hitting home runs — then people try to put things in their mind that they are home run hitters and they try to do too much.”
Before starting the slump in June, Puig hit .398 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs in May. McGwire also talked about the advice he gives to Puig for his approach at the plate:
You can see when a kid wants to do too much,” McGwire said. “You try too hard and when you do that you tend to swing out of your zone. I always tell him, ‘Suave. Suave. (Gentle. Gentle.)’
While Puig hasn’t hit Friday’s starter Andrew Cashner well in his career, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the night off was also about Puig being able to keep his emotions in check.
Over a seven-game stretch, which includes a pinch-hit appearance Friday, Puig is hitless in his last 19 at-bats.
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