Not that anyone keeps track of these things, but the Los Angeles Dodgers may have set a record for earliest clear-the-air team meeting ever.
Two games into their season, Manager Don Mattingly has already called the team together — and they’re 2-0. Imagine if they were 0-2. The topic du jour was problematic outfielder Yasiel Puig, who is already trying Mattingly’s patience. During the Dodgers’ two-game series in Australia, Mattingly lamented that Puig “grabs something every time he takes a swing and misses.” He had two baserunning errors Sunday and left the game in the ninth inning after striking out. Mattingly seemed frustrated when reporters asked what was wrong. “I guess his back. Shoulder yesterday, back today. So I’m not sure if they’re going to get tests on him or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe,” Mattingly said. “I’m not quite sure what we’ll do. We may not do anything. I’m not sure.”
With a few days off before their States-side opener, it was a good time for a meeting and ESPN Los Angeles reports that Puig was “very open” with his manager and teammates. From Ramona Shelburne’s report:
“I asked them to please keep helping me,” Puig told ESPN.com. “Specifically with baserunning and hitting my cutoff man. I want them to help me with everything they can.”
The meeting previously was described as being between the second-year outfielder and the manager, but Mattingly wanted the entire team to have a forum to address the subject in-house, rather than have frustrations boil over or leak out through the media. Veterans Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe were the most vocal players during the meeting, sources said.
As far as Mattingly was concerned, the meeting served its purpose. “We’re good,” he said. “I’ve got no issues with Yasiel.”
Of course, the Dodgers haven’t even played a regular-season game on U.S. soil yet this season.