Will Don Mattingly's Disciplinarian Approach Work on Yasiel Puig?

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIAugust 28, 2013

Yasiel Puig was removed from the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup in the fifth inning Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs, and it wasn't because of an injury:

Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles wonders if it's because Puig didn't attempt to break up a double play in the first inning:

The Dodgers took Puig out in favor of utility man Skip Schumaker in the fifth inning. The team announced there was no injury to Puig, saying the move was made at the "manager's discretion."

In the first inning, Puig went into second base standing up on Carl Crawford's grounder rather than attempt to break up the double play, which Chicago turned. The next batter was Hanley Ramirez, who launched a solo home run.

However, if that was the case, why didn't Mattingly pull Puig out immediately following the play in question?

Still, others have their theories:

This is what Mattingly had to say in a postgame interview, according to Dodgers Nation:

It’s not action against Yasiel. Today is just a decision, simple decision. I felt like at that point in the game, Skip gave us a better chance to win. I want to keep it in house and there’s no reason to discuss reasons.

Meanwhile, Puig elaborated on why Mattingly yanked him, per the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez:

Keeping it in-house means Mattingly is once again going to have a closed-door meeting with Puig about being a big leaguer. Whether it sinks in remains to be seen.

All circumstances aside, the news isn't getting any better for Puig. It seems he's taking a Johnny Manziel-type approach to making headlines the wrong way.

Considering his removal from this game, coupled with the Aug. 20 benching against the Marlins and a multitude of other unfavorable headlines, Puig seems to have an obvious discipline problem.

But will Mattingly's disciplinarian approach work with his young outfielder?


Mattingly Already Screwed Up

You might be asking, "How did Mattingly already screw up?" Just look at the game where Puig was held out of the starting lineup in Miami. Mattingly started with the right intentions, but then gave in and inserted Puig into the game in a big situation...one in which he delivered a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning.

Sure, he played a major role in the Dodgers' victory, but Mattingly also sent the nonverbal message that the team can't win without Puig.

Even if it would have cost the Dodgers the win, leaving him on the bench in a big spot would have delivered the exact opposite message loud and clear: You are not bigger than the team.

Puig's already got it in the back of his mind that he is the reason why the Dodgers turned around their season. Putting him into a game where you initially left him off the lineup card only reinforces that thought.


Can Teammates Get Through to Him?

Earlier in the year, Puig's teammates defended him, saying (via ESPN) he gets attacked by the media and other players for no reason:

“He just gets attacked for no reason. He’s a great kid,” second baseman Mark Ellis told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “All he’s done is come in here and make our team better. So what if he rubs the opponents the wrong way? I don’t care. He’s on my team. I couldn’t care less if somebody from our division rival doesn’t like what he does.”

Now, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, his teammates are taking a different approach:

Dodgers utility man Jerry Hairston said players essentially told Puig, “Hey, that’s enough,” pointing out that such mistakes could prove decisive in important games down the stretch or in the playoffs.

“But if you're going to be a great player, you’ve got to do the little things. That’s how you win. That’s the key.”

Puig's teammates are starting to understand why he is being attacked in the media, and they want to nip it in the bud. But has Puig's celebrity-driven ego already gotten too big to care what others may think?


What it's Going to Take

Regardless of what it costs the Dodgers down the stretch of the regular season, a point has to be made to Puig.

Don't hold him out of the starting lineup and then let him come into the game and make a difference. Essentially that's just a slap on the wrist.

The Dodgers should bench Puig for a couple of games and get him to understand there's a certain way the game is played. Dodgers fans may not like it, but if they want Puig to be a star on the team for the foreseeable future, this has to get taken care of.

The constant negative media attention is not what a team with World Series aspirations needs. And like it or not, Puig is a star in Los Angeles, so the microscope isn't going anywhere. He must make an effort to play the game the right way, grant interviews to the media and stop making dumb mistakes.

A message has to be sent. The question is, will the Dodgers send that message?


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