In Yasiel Puig's own words, his style of play reflects a game that is designed to be entertaining for fans all around the world. It's why he bat flips after he making solid contact. It's why he's relentless when running down fly balls and running the bases, and at times even reckless when he crashes into outfield walls and runs into unnecessary outs. But that's just who he is, and he's not about to change it no matter how polarizing that style makes him.
"It's my style. It's the way I've played baseball for a long time. I don't really worry about the other team or what other players think about me, other than our team," he said. "As far as what other people think, I try to play the game hard and I try to play the game happy. I want to have a good time when I'm playing. This is a game of entertainment. I don't play it to offend people. But I do have a good time playing the game of baseball."
It's a good thing Puig's not overly worried about how other players perceive him, because New York Mets reliever Carlos Torres didn't hold back while discussing the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder during an appearance on Inside Pitch on MLB Network Radio.
"For me, personally, I’m a ballplayer. I’m an athlete. I am a guy who actually enjoys the game and competing. I don’t care to watch him," Torres told Casey Stern on SiriusXM. "If you look at [Jason] Heyward’s catch where he was flying through the outfield, laying out, he actually made a way better catch than Yasiel Puig’s. And that was earlier in the season. But since it’s not Puig, nobody cares. No one is paying attention."
If Torres is actually referencing this Heyward game-ending grab from July 2013, then we'll agree it's in the same category as Puig's.
Way better though? Not a chance.
In the same breath, Torres also weighed in on Puig's preparation and approach to each play.
"If you watch him before a ball is hit, he’s just standing straight up and down. Maybe he might bend over once or twice. And he’s almost never ready to field the ball. So when you’re watching stuff like that, you just sit there, let him do what he does, and go from there and try to get him out when he’s hitting."
Perhaps someone who analyzes Puig's every movement could weigh in on this one. Puig's defensive issues have seemingly stemmed from him being too casual or too aggressive in pursuit, not being caught offguard or out of position. Not that the former is acceptable, but Torres' beef seems nitpicky at best.
Before Torres wrapped up his Puig scouting report, he had to make sure to explain how this all comes back to the way Puig is spotlighted and played up by the media.
"My personal opinion is I don’t listen to everybody that gets blown up in the media. A lot of times it’s what it is. The media picks their players for that year. The media picks their players for that month. And then they’re the best player known to man. Usually it’s followed by a big contract, or usually it’s followed by a bigger-market team.
Puig has his share of detractors in the media as well, but his coverage is obviously warranted because a lot of what he does is fascinating to watch. Not to mention the fact he's already among the best players in the game. Just check out his 343/.438/.614 line entering play on Saturday and his 25-game on base streak.
How Puig goes about his business will never be universally accepted, and it doesn't have to be. That's the beauty of it all. We're all allowed to perceive it how we want to, Torres included. But it's always interesting when a player feels strongly enough about another to be this forthcoming with his opinions. It will undoubtedly add some intrigue to the next Puig vs. Torres matchup, if and when it happens. If Puig gets the barrel on a baseball, the bat may never land after he flips it. Unless of course he truly doesn't care what others think.
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