No stranger to media attention, Yasiel Puig once again has found himself in the spotlight, however not for his on-the-field play, but instead, for the incredible journey he went through to escape from Cuba. Prior to Jesse Katz’s article in the May issue of Los Angeles magazine, little was known of Puig’s defection from the communist country. Included in Katz’s feature is detailed insight into the intricacies and tense moments that surrounded Puig’s voyage to the shores of Mexico.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly broke his silence on the matter, saying on Thursday he was largely unaware of Puig’s history and that he was concerned for his outfielder. Puig, who has often declined to speak on his past when previously questioned, issued a statement through his agent that read in part he is focused on being a good teammate and helping the Dodgers win games.
Despite Katz and a second report from ESPN divulging details of Puig’s past that the outfielder has not discussed, Puig claims he is unaffected by the reports, via Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
I feel normal,” Puig said in Spanish. “I’m focused on baseball and giving the best of myself to the team and, hopefully, everything turns out well on the field. Those things that are happening aren’t affecting me.”
Puig didn’t elaborate any further on the matter and given how he’s handled the situation in the past, it is unlikely he will speak on it again. Since signing with the Dodgers in 2012, Puig has been the subject of heavy criticism, which intensified when he arrived at the big league level and played the game with exuberance and a level of brashness that is frowned upon.
On multiple accounts from Mattingly and Puig’s teammates, the 23-year-old is good-natured and means well. Within the clubhouse, it appears Puig’s mishaps are being viewed as learning experiences and the scrutinizing is being left to those not associated with the team.
Dodgers Story: Yasiel Puig’s Shocking Escape From Cuba