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Does Yasiel Puig's 4-Hit Night Show That Benching Was Right Call?

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30:  Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits an RBI single against the San Diego Padres in the second inning at Dodger Stadium on August 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Doug MeadCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2017

On Friday, embattled Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig collected a double, three singles and two stolen bases on his way to a four-hit night. His performance certainly helped lead the way in the Dodgers' 9-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Considering he had been benched after four innings by manager Don Mattingly on Wednesday versus Chicago, it's certainly fair to ask the question: Does his four-hit night show that he learned something from the discipline?

It's likely a question to be debated, considering the massive attention that Puig has generated since making his much-ballyhooed debut in early June. 

Mattingly originally played down the sit-down of Puig on Wednesday, telling the media after the game that he felt like Skip Schumaker was a better option in the hopes of winning the game.

Yeah, right. 

It should also be noted that Puig had a tete-a-tete with both Mattingly and his boss, Ned Colletti, before the game.

Generally, players aren't called into meetings with their boss and their boss' boss because they want to talk about warm, fuzzy things.

Puig's antics both on and off the field were clearly becoming a concern, and the higher-ups were absolutely right in taking the action of sitting Puig.

Puig took the disciplinary action quite well, saying after the game that Mattingly made the right call. With a full day off, many fans were wondering just how Puig would respond.

They got the message loud and clear on Friday.

But does it mean that Puig learned his lesson? 

In a word, no.

Puig simply had a good game against a subpar team. The Padres are playing out the string right now, and while Puig's performance certainly lends credence to the "lesson learned" school of thought, one game simply won't answer that question.

At 22 years of age, armed with seven-year, $42 million contract and being exposed to a way of life he never would have dreamed possible on his native island of Cuba, Puig is absolutely going through growing pains.

Collecting four hits doesn't mean he's turned a corner in his maturity level.

Can he start carrying out simple fundamentals like hitting the cutoff man? Will he stop running through hold signs at third base? Will he stop recklessly trying to take an extra base when the prudent thing to do is stay where he is? 

The Dodgers can't control what Puig does off the field, but they can darn sure try to control what he does between the lines. Mattingly took a step in the right direction with his actions on Wednesday. 

Puig responded with a fabulous night on Friday.

A one-game sample size is nowhere near enough to say that Puig has turned a corner. Still, four hits and two stolen bases in one game has a way of healing wounds quickly. 

 

Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.

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