It's not even opening day yet, and The Yasiel Puig Show has taken over again. If you followed the original saga last year, not too much has changed for the sequel — Puig, the 23-year-old, second-year outfielder from Cuba, is still a bit reckless on the baseball field, the Dodgers still aren't thrilled about it and the media and the Twittersphere are still blowing the entire thing out of proportion.
Things got contentious during the Dodgers opening series in Australia when manager Don Mattingly sounded frustrated with Puig and his mistakes, and that story got turned into headlines such as "Mattingly is running out patience with Puig." Then Bill Plaschke of the L.A. Times took the Dodgers to task for enabling Puig, and called out Puig for his maturity not increasing as his numbers decrease.
A whole season of this was going to be hard to handle, especially for a Dodgers team that has World Series expectations. So Mattingly reportedly called a team meeting Tuesday to "clear the air" on all things Puig. From ESPN Los Angeles' report:
Before the latest controversy with Puig had a chance to mushroom, manager Don Mattingly called a team meeting Tuesday to clear the air, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.
A source described Puig as "very open" during the meeting and receptive to what was said.
"I asked them to please keep helping me," Puig told ESPN.com. "Specifically with baserunning and hitting my cutoff man. I want them to help me with everything they can."
The meeting previously was described as being between the second-year outfielder and the manager, but Mattingly wanted the entire team to have a forum to address the subject in-house, rather than have frustrations boil over or leak out through the media. Veterans Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe were the most vocal players during the meeting, sources said.
Team meeting? If this weren't baseball, we'd call that an intervention. We'll see whether this gets through to Puig or calms the storm or helps limit a frustrated teammate's outburst down the road when the games matter. But anonymous Dodgers seemed to think it helped, and I'll take their word over some dude unloading on Twitter. Again, from ESPN Los Angeles:
"It was good for everybody. Donnie just wanted to squash this, and it did," one veteran, who asked not to be named, told ESPN.com.
Puig said he understood his teammates "wanted to help me get better" and encouraged them to approach him directly anytime they had something to say to him.
"Puig's a good kid. He just didn't come up through the system like we all did," a veteran teammate said.
Here's the thing about The Yasiel Puig Show. We'll all be watching, for better or worse.
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