Yasiel Puig’s one-year anniversary came and went Tuesday night with another disappointing loss for the Los Angeles Dodgers as they were unable to generate run support for Dan Haren. Puig finished the game 2-for-4 with a double and a walk, though each time he came to the plate, the bases were empty.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Puig was named the National League Player Of The Month for May. Since his MLB debut last June, Puig has been at the center of both positive and negative media attention.
In his second season, Puig has made notable strides in becoming a more all around player, which has included more plate discipline that’s resulted in the right fielder evolving into a clutch hitter with runners in scoring position.
When asked how he’s a different player and person than one year ago during an interview with Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Puig credited his teammates for helping him become a better player than he was one year ago:
I’ve had a lot of help from all of my teammates. Working the batting cages in Spring Training. Just trying to give my best on the field. Adrian Gonzalez particularly has been of help to me. Hitting well, hitting the cutoff man, swinging at good pitches and being a lot more patient at the plate. Again, thanks to my teammates for helping me out. That’s why I think I’m doing well.
Puig’s season got off to a rocky start as he was unimpressive in Spring Training, was criticized by manager Don Mattingly for his tendency to claim injury when things don’t go his way and was benched after arriving late for the team’s home opener. Mattingly would later clarify his comments and Puig asked that a team meeting be called in which he reportedly emplored his teammates to help him development.
While Puig has improved on his play from last season, his teammates haven’t been able to consistently do the same and as a result, the Dodgers have struggled. Manager Don Mattingly and Adrian Gonzalez have discussed needing to play with urgency, which the Dodgers have rarely shown this season.
As a result of the erratic play, the Dodgers find themselves trailing the San Francisco Giants by seven games in the NL West standings. An improbable 42-8 run propelled the Dodgers to a division title last season, however the likelihood that a similar stretch is put together is doubtful.
While Puig’s continued growth will be key for the Dodgers moving forward, if Gonzalez or Hanley Ramirez are unable to shoulder their load, the Dodgers will remain stuck in mediocrity.
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