In his rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig hit .319 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs. The Cuban outfielder was instrumental in the Dodgers’ turnaround, which has led to Puig seemingly either being praised or hated. Heading into 2014, Puig was expected to refine his game, both at the plate and in the field. In the Dodgers compressed spring training schedule, Puig showed improvement in fielding fundamentals, but struggled at the plate.
Through 48 spring at-bats, Puig hit a lowly .167, which was a significant drop from his .517 average in 2013. Naturally, talks of opposing pitchers having figured out Puig’s weaknesses began to surface and then continued when Puig went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in the first game of the regular season. Upon returning from the two games in Australia, the Dodgers played the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a three-game exhibition series, which Puig used as an opportunity to speak with Angels’ first baseman Albert Pujols and Seattle Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
Over the last week, the Dodgers’ problem child made it a point to speak with Albert Pujols of the Angels during the Freeway Series. He also solicited advice from Robinson Cano, who was with the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim.
Puig’s seeking advice from Cano and Pujols can be viewed as another sign of maturity that not many believed he had. The timing of it also comes correlates to the team meeting the Dodgers held when Puig asked his teammates to help with his development.
After struggling in the first game of the season, Puig has recovered a bit with his average currently sitting at .250. In the Dodgers’ 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, Puig hit a two-run home run, which was his first of the season and just his second extra-base hit. The home run didn’t take Puig out of his slump, but it was a step in the right direction for the right fielder. Puig may not have the same awe-inspiring results as last season, but that isn’t what the Dodgers need from their young outfielder. With a more refined approach, Puig can still have an important impact on the Dodgers success.
VIDEO: Dodgers Nation Interviews Yasiel Puig