Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Baseball [Print without images]

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Yasiel Puig late for BP again

By Mark Saxon
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- On the one-year anniversary of his major league debut, Yasiel Puig gave the Los Angeles Dodgers another reminder that he's still not the easiest player to manage.

While the rest of his teammates were in uniform and beginning to stretch for batting practice Tuesday afternoon, Puig emerged from the clubhouse wearing a T-shirt, basketball shorts and shower shoes to conduct a TV interview.

Before the interview began, hitting coach Mark McGwire walked up and spoke with Puig, tapping his watch, but Puig went on with the interview and McGwire walked away.

Afterward, Puig went back in the clubhouse and emerged about 15 minutes later, after the team had started batting practice.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly benched Puig for the Dodgers' home opener for being late for batting practice, but Puig played Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox, doubling in his first at-bat and going 2-for-4 with a walk in Los Angeles' 4-1 loss. The difference was that this time, Puig was in the building when the team stretched.

"Obviously, you don't want your guys to be late for stretch, but I think he just lost track of the schedule," Mattingly said.

The manager indicated there could be some form of internal discipline meted out, probably a fine. Puig was benched for one game last season for being late to the ballpark in Miami, and Mattingly pulled him midgame later in the season for failing to hustle out to right field after striking out in his previous at-bat.

On the field, Puig has shown dramatic improvement in his second season in the majors. He has improved his plate discipline, made fewer errant throws and cut down on poor baserunning decisions, although he still has occasional lapses in all phases. He has been one of the most dynamic players in the game at the plate and in the field. Entering Tuesday's games, his 1.036 OPS was third in the majors and his 2.7 WAR ranked ninth. He also has moved into the lead among outfielders in fan voting for next month's All-Star Game.

Puig, 23, jumped straight from Double-A Chattanooga and made his major league debut June 3, 2013.

As Puig was doing the TV interview and the Dodgers were stretching Tuesday, Mattingly was doing his pregame interview with reporters on the Dodgers' bench, about 30 feet away, so it wasn't exactly hidden from the public eye.

"I don't think he quite understands the system today," Mattingly said.

Asked whether that's an issue for Mattingly, he said, "It will be."