Rick Rycroft/Associated Press
The Dodgers have yet to solve the mystery that is Yasiel Puig.
If you were hoping to see a more mature less polarizing Yasiel Puig after just one year of major league baseball, then you’ve already been greatly disappointed. The calendar has yet to hit April 1 and Year 2 of the Puig soap opera already promises to be at least as interesting as the first.
It only took two games for us to see the very best and the very worst of Puig in action.
He kicked off the 2014 campaign with an 0-for-5 performance that included three strikeouts. Puig went 3-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI in Game 2. But he also committed two egregious base-running errors in that game, reminding us that the wild stallion is nowhere close to being tamed.
Puig either hasn’t learned or is clearly ignoring the lessons that teammates took great pains to instill in him last season. The gaffes infuriated manager Don Mattingly to the point where he called a team meeting of the year to clear the air on Puig’s approach to the game.
And remember, the Dodgers are 2-0.
Either you love Puig’s passion for the game or you find his whole approach to be a disrespectful affront to old-school baseball tradition. If you care about baseball even a little bit, you clearly have an opinion on Puig; there’s just no middle ground with this kid.
You don’t have to be a Puig apologist to conclude that it’s way too early to start sounding the alarm. He was largely responsible for the Dodgers' turnaround last season, and their chances of duplicating (or improving upon) that success will rise or fall with Puig’s ability to prove that his rookie season was not a fluke.
Puig’s growth as a player cannot be measured by box scores alone. He must earn his teammates’ respect by showing a level of maturity and attention to detail that we have yet to see out of the 23-year-old phenom.
If Puig starts to show that he gets it, the Dodgers have a great chance of ending their 26-year World Series drought. If not, we could be talking about Puig in another uniform before the July 31 trade deadline.