Found August 29, 2013 on
Fox Sports West:
Maybe we should consider this the education of Yasiel Puig.
His and ours.
No Dodgers rookie has begun his career in a more electrifying manner -- or become more of a lightning rod for controversy. On Wednesday afternoon, we saw precisely how much he can affect a game, not by what he did on the field but by what he didn't do.
It's possible the exact reasons he was pulled from a 4-0 win over the Chicago will ever be known, but it's reasonable to make some assumptions. Puig simply didn't play as if he cared.
Watch a replay. You'll see him run not slide into second base on a ground ball by Carl Crawford that was turned into a first-inning double play. It happened just before Hanley Ramirez's home run.
If Puig slides, maybe maybe he causes an errant or delayed throw, and maybe that's a two-run homer that Ramirez hits.
Now fast-forward to the fourth inning. You'll see Puig run nonchalantly to catch a fly ball in right field for the third out, then fling the ball into the pavilion seats with his glove.
Did those two incidents aggravate manager Don Mattingly enough to do what he did send Skip Schumaker to play right at the start of the fifth and end Puig's day?
Mattingly wouldn't say, but there seems little doubt. Mattingly has fined Puig for coming late to the ballpark, has left him out of the starting lineup, has called him into his office for meetings and has let the team's veterans scold Puig for his mistakes.
What Mattingly hasn't done is embarrass him. He could have done that on Wednesday by allowing Puig to take the field, then called him back to the dugout and leave Dodger Stadium fans to wonder why. But Mattingly, who played the game with distinction and professionalism, understands the kind of effect that can have on a player, especially one so young as Puig.
It's a delicate balancing act. Mattingly must teach the game to Puig without affecting his enthusiasm or his ability to make plays. Reprimand him too much and he risks the chance that Puig may stop doing what he does best, which is make big plays.
As the man who's steering this team, Mattingly doesn't want to dress down his player in a public forum. He understands the ramifications of doing so, that criticizing a 22-year-old Cuban-born player to the media might do greater harm than good.
"I love these guys," Mattingly said after the game. "I love all my players, and I see the good in all of them."
He also knows that 25 players need to be handled 25 different ways. Puig must be treated differently than Clayton Kershaw; Adrian Gonzalez is handled differently than Juan Uribe.
There are also cultural differences to consider. Puig learned the game on Cuban soil, where it's played freely and easily and purely for joy. You swing the bat or you don't play. You take an extra base or attempt a long throw because that's the style.
In the U.S., it's a different game. Puig defected just 16 months ago. The Dodgers dropped a seven-year, 42-million contract in his lap, sent him to the minor leagues and watched him develop, knowing his fundamentals were far from polished.
He had just 63 games on his resume when the Dodgers called him up on June 3, really out of necessity. So he's still in a classroom setting, although at the big-league level.
The lessons are coming hard. He is still learning to hit the cutoff man and avoid making mistakes on the bases. There are times to take chances and times to take a more conservative route. But it's always about playing the game the right way.
This is where Puig finds himself, and where fans must pause and let him learn. His talent will grow as his education increases. Mattingly is holding him accountable for his actions and so are his teammates. But it's up to him to absorb the things they're saying and put them into practice.
He's a kid. He's enjoying his wealth and celebrity, but he's finding out there is a great responsibility to everything he does and says. Being a big leaguer is a privilege; it must be earned.
Right now, the Dodgers can punish Puig's gaffes with a slap on the wrist or a day on the bench. But in the playoffs, those same miscues will be magnified 10 times. There are no excuses.
One lesson he has yet to learn: It only takes an instant to go from great to goat.
BEST OF MAXIM
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig (photo credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY-Sports)
After playing only four innings and being benched in the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday afternoon game against the Chicago Cubs, Yasiel Puig responded with four hits, moving his multi-hit game tally to 33, and also added two stolen bases for good measure on Friday night as the Dodgers...
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig found himself back in hot water and back in the manager's office on Wednesday for what appeared to be a lack of game preparation -- or perhaps a lack of effort.
There was no direct explanation, but Puig was pulled after the fourth inning of the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. The reason, he said, was a failure to prepare...
Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig was pulled from the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs because he “wasn’t ready on defense” for every pitch.
The 22-year-old told reporters he understood manager Don Mattingly’s decision to pull him from the game.
Puig said Mattingly pulled him because he wasn’t ready on defense for every pitch. Puig...
Yasiel Puig has been an outstanding player for the Los Angeles Dodgers since being called up in June, but he has also been immature and committed many small mistakes. His teammates have called him out for his poor fundamentals, such as not hitting the cutoff man on throws or making baserunning mistakes. On Wednesday, Dodgers […]
Yasiel Puig learned what happens when he breaks his dive with his penis.
During yesterday's game, Yasiel Puig was pulled in the fifth inning by manager Don Mattingly. There was some initial concern that he may have been hurt, but that was not the case. Instead, Puig was benched for disciplinary reasons.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Mattingly benched Puig for "effort," but neither he nor anyone else on the team would elaborate...
This was coming. And frankly, what happened Wednesday might be the best thing for Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had talked to Puig, his coaches had talked to Puig and, in recent days, a number of the team's veterans had talked to Puig.
Their message still was not getting through.
So, Mattingly yanked Puig at the start of the fifth...
LOS ANGELES Whatever turmoil may have taken place with the Dodgers this week ended the moment Yasiel Puig ran from the dugout to right field in the top of the first inning on Friday.
Everything went back to normal for the Dodgers -- in every possible way.
Puig had four hits, Adrian Gonzalez hit two home runs, pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu won his 13th game, and the Dodgers well, they...
Hopefully, Major League Baseball can survive the affront to human decency that is Yasiel Puig.
We kid, of course, but hyperbole and Puig have gone hand in hand ever since the Los Angeles Dodgers phenom burst onto the scene in June. Within two weeks of his major league debut, Puig inspired comparisons to Joe DiMaggio and prompted a heated debate over whether his stellar month deserved...
Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig found himself back in hot water and back in the manager's office on Wednesday for what appeared to be a lack of game preparation -- or perhaps a lack of effort.
There was no direct explanation but Puig was pulled after the fourth inning of the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. The reason he said was a failure to prepare defensively in right...
Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig and former MLB manager Tony LaRussa went head to head on Thursday but not in the way you think. The two faced off in a game of ping pong at a tournament hosted by Clayton Kershaw to benefit his nonprofit foundation. From the photos it looks like these two were really into it too.
Hopefully LaRussa gave him a little advice about baseball as...
Don Mattingly had no choice.
Mattingly’s handling of Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig has been one of the most polarizing topics of the baseball season, with the most recent buzz coming Wednesday when Mattingly benched Puig before the fifth inning of a game against the Cubs. Wednesday’s decision once again opened up the debate over whether or not Mattingly is pulling the right strings...
Yasiel Puig had four hits and two stolen bases after getting benched in his previous game, and Adrian Gonzalez hit a pair of two-run homers to help the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 9-2 on Friday night.
The teams met for the first time since a four-game series at San Diego in June, when the Dodgers lost the first two and fell a season-worst 9 1/2 games behind Arizona...
The biggest thing to keep an eye on over the last month will be the spoiler teams that are completely out of the playoff race but are playing good baseball lately, and have plenty of games left against contenders.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Yasiel Puig had four hits and two stolen bases after getting benched in his previous game, and Adrian Gonzalez hit a pair of two-run homers to help the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 9-2 on Friday night. The teams met for the first time since a four-game series at San Diego in June, when the Dodgers lost the first two and fell a season-worst 9...