Yasiel Puig might need to turn it down a notch.
What good is being the most gifted athlete on a baseball diamond if you’re stuck on the disabled list?
His latest injury, a left thumb contusion suffered during a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs on August 3, didn't result from a poor decision. He’s an aggressive and immensely gifted athlete who simply makes plays.
Puig even stayed in the game before being benched the following inning.
He also threw his body into the wall earlier in the game, making a tremendous circus catch on a foul ball, though umpires negated the play since the ball hit the wall first:
No one should or will question his ability or desire to play his best, and it’s rapidly becoming crystal clear that Puig’s talent is far above the norm in Major League Baseball. He’s a star in the making.
No, he is a star.
But sometimes there needs to be a voice in the back of a player’s mind that ushers in a hint of caution.
Puig is laying it all on the field each and every ballgame. He could benefit from making some better decisions, though.
Some have even questioned his adherence to certain “unwritten rules” of the game.
In June, against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Puig erupted after being hit in the head by pitcher Ian Kennedy. He had every right to be upset about being pitched inside and ultimately beaned in the head.
But Puig’s rage was fully on display during a brawl sparked in the next inning. After Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke pegged Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero in retaliation, Kennedy hit Greinke in the bottom of the inning to clear the benches.
That wasn’t the last of the Puig and Montero connection.
Early in July, Puig attempted to score after a cut-off throw had him dead in the water near third base. Instead of retreating, the Cuban sensation darted home and was out by a mile. Montero was at the plate and easily held on as Puig charged, throwing a shoulder in an attempt to plow over the catcher.
Montero wasn’t upset about the play, but rather the ensuing chatter from the rookie as he retreated to the dugout, according to MLB.com’s Tyler Emerick:
I don’t blame him running me over, it’s part of the game. The only thing I really don’t appreciate is why you have to look back at me. I really don’t appreciate that. ...
It’s immaturity. It’s part of his confidence right now that everything is going his way. Everything is right for him, he feels pretty good about himself. This game pays back though, he’s going to have his bad moments out there and then he’s going to realize he needs to change.
Puig is certainly riding high right now. His ability to do it all on the diamond and his vast early success has helped his name become synonymous with the future of the game.
The only thing he should do different is exercise better judgment at times. There’s a time to slide, there’s a time to fight for your teammates and there’s a time to show a little restraint as a professional ballplayer.
At just 22 years old, Puig has plenty of time to get it right.
The Dodgers are hoping that day comes soon as they cling to first place in the NL West—territory they wouldn’t be exploring if not for their rookie phenom’s meteoric rise to the top.