The learning curve continues for Los Angeles Dodgers rookie phenom Yasiel Puig, with the latest incident an embarrassing hook from his manager during a game Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.
Puig was yanked for disciplinary reasons that Don Mattingly declined to discuss, not that he needed to because they were evident. Puig chose not to slide into second base to try to break up a double play on a grounder in the first inning. He petulantly flipped his bat after flailing on a strikeout in the third inning and, after slowly making his way to the outfield, he made two swipe catches, flinging the ball into the stands after the latter.
Mattingly was grilled about his decision to give Puig a timeout and had a succinct answer. “I don’t need to go into what I see,” said Mattingly, who met with Puig and General Manager Ned Colletti for 30 minutes after the game.
“I wasn’t prepared well [defensively],” Puig said through an interpreter (via Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports). “It was a good decision [by Mattingly].”
Mattingly acknowledged last weekend, Rosenthal reports, that there’s a balancing act with a player so talented, so raw, so young (24) and so new to the major leagues. Last week in Miami, Puig, who was called up in early June, violated a team rule by showing up late to the clubhouse and Mattingly fined him. He also was benched for a game, but Mattingly said it was not related to his late arrival. The Dodgers clearly thought Puig was on the right track at the time.
“He’s an energetic player with such passion,” Mattingly said. “Sometimes he goes out of control. But it’s never malicious. It’s never, ‘I’m missing the cutoff man because I want to.’
“I don’t want to break this kid’s spirit. I like him playing the way he plays. But like with anybody else, I just want him to play intelligently.”