Yasiel Puig was arguably the spark plug that led to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 17-0 win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
Puig turned a flare single to center field into a hustle double and the Dodgers went on to score four runs in the first inning. He finished the night 3-for-5 with three runs scored in what was his first multi-hit game since Sept. 3.
Prior to that, Puig’s last game with more than one hit came Aug. 15. His slump is well-documented and so too is manager Don Mattingly’s efforts to move him around the lineup to help his outfielder round back into form.
Mattingly has twice kept Puig out of the lineup, but otherwise left him as the regular starting center fielder. Acknowledging he hasn’t swung the ball well, Puig expressed his gratitude for the Dodgers’ continued support, via Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
I’m not producing for the team, but they’re supporting me and continue to give me the opportunity,” he said. “They’re showing confidence in me and that I’m not alone.”
Puig has also come to terms with the fact he’s scrutinized more heavily than your average player:
If you’re the face of the team or one of the more important players on the team, if you don’t play well, there will always be a ruckus,” Puig said. “I understand it now. If someone else does something, it’s no big deal. If Puig does it, it’s a ruckus. That’s life.”
That was particularly true when Puig arrived at Dodger Stadium roughly 10 minutes late last week. Puig’s tardiness was immediately reported and social media was abuzz with responses alluding to his immaturity; however, it was later confirmed the Dodgers were aware of the situation and Puig was excused.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Puig has time to find himself at the plate but the window is rapidly closing. And once it does, he may be under additional pressure from postseason lights.
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