Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig came into Spring Training last season trying to open some eyes. The Cuban sensation hit .517 in 58 plate appearances last spring and made it tough on the organization, but with four outfielders already for three spots, he was sent to Double A Chattanooga.
In his second spring and already having a starting spot, the 23-year-old doesn’t seem to have the same spark as he did when he first joined the Dodgers last June or even during his spring appearances last year. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly commented on Puig’s tough spring via Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles:
I think Yasiel’s different. I think he’s a confident kid. This is a totally different spring for him from the standpoint of he kind of established himself. You want everyone to be swinging good, but it doesn’t happen that often.
It could be that Puig is merely continuing where he left off during the NCLS against the St. Louis Cardinals, where he failed to contribute compared to his impact during the regular season. This spring, Puig is hitting .152 in 33 at-bats, has only three extra base hits and is yet to hit a home run.
Earlier this spring and during the off-season, the outfielder has been dealing with shoulder inflammation, but he maintains that it isn’t an issue at the moment. Asked if Puig is frustrated with his poor performance, it isn’t surprising what Mattingly said to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
A little bit, Mattingly said. Yesterday, he was good. For him, he’s just got to be patient, get good pitches to hit. You are what you eat. It’s a matter of him getting pitches in the strike zone.
Teams continue to pound Puig inside with fastballs and throw off speed stuff outside and for the duration of the spring, he hasn’t been able to adjust. Bench coach Tim Wallach called this time in Spring Training the “dead zone” and the coaching staff isn’t concerned about the offense at the moment.
Puig will have presumably two more chances over the weekend to get into a nice rhythm before the Australia trip, but it’s clear teams have adjusted to him and the Dodgers are waiting for him to adjust back.
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