Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Puig: No Bravado, Just Baseball

Look out MLB: The "new" Puig is
coming at you!
(photo courtesy Getty)
The Dodgers have come blasting out of the opening gates, and the "Wild Horse," Yasiel Puig, is leading the charge. In the first two games, Puig has been on base in 6 out of 8 at-bats, including a Little League home run as well as an easy three-bagger, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch where he didn't even so much as glance at the pitcher (first time ever?). He has also knocked in 3 runs and scored 4. Puig showed us this explosiveness when he first hit the scene in 2013, but there is something different about this Yasiel, and it could be the key to the Dodgers' season.

Finally part of the brotherhood.
(photo courtesy LA Times)
One of the first things manager Dave Roberts did when he was hired was to reach out to Puig and wipe the slate clean from the Don Mattingly days. From the moment he pulled into spring training, Puig seemed lighter, not just physically (he lost 15 pounds over the winter), but also mentally. He looked truly comfortable with his teammates for the first time, both on the field and in the clubhouse. Roberts seemed to almost instantly create just the right atmosphere for both Puig to be a better teammate and for his teammates to finally accept him into the brotherhood. 

Healthier & Happier.
(photo courtesy CBS Sports)
And the dividends couldn't be paying off any more quickly. Puig is showing patience at the plate--no wild swings, just waiting for his pitch, taking what comes, driving the ball frickin' hard. He is running Dave Roberts-style on the bases, aggressive without being reckless, creating opportunities for himself, such as turning a triple into 4 bases by forcing a hurried throw from the outfield. When Tyson Ross nailed him on the elbow, he put his head down and sprinted to first, something he has also done with both walks issued to him. No bravado, just baseball. Puig's teammates couldn't be more excited and are celebrating his team-first style of play. Instead of throwing up the "I'm number one fingers" after a big play, Puig looks straight into the dugout for confirmation, and the joy and support from his teammates and coaches is undeniable. 

Can Puig lead the Dodgers
to the promised land?
(photo courtesy LA Times)
This is the Puig the rest of MLB was hoping would never make it to the field. If this Puig is here to stay, a trip to the World Series just might be in the cards this season.

No comments:

Post a Comment