In years gone by, spring training was viewed as just that, the time and place where baseball's best worked themselves back in to playing shape after an offseason spent relaxing, recovering, and in some cases working a second job.
Times have changed though. Now there's an expectation that every player, barring offseason rehab from an injury, will show up to camp ready to hit the ground running. Of course, it doesn't always work out that way. And with today's extensive coverage of spring training, players who are out of shape, or those who have at least added some weight, tend to stand out from the pack and garner the extra attention.
They stand out even more when their name is Yasiel Puig.
According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles, the Dodgers 23-year-old superstar has raised a few eyebrows around camp this week after reporting at 251 pounds. That’s 26 pounds more than Puig’s playing weight at the end of the regular season, and 16 pounds over his weight at the beginning of camp last spring.
It's far from the same situation the Seattle Mariners are facing with Jesus Montero, but apparently there's enough difference in Puig's look that manager Don Mattingly admitted he’ll be paying attention to his weight and conditioning this spring. However, Mattingly feels it's only time to monitor, not overreact.
"We don't feel it's going to be a problem, but we're paying attention to it, put it that way," Mattingly told the gathered media on Friday.
The Dodgers are hopeful Puig will drop some of the additional weight before opening their regular season on March 22 in Australia. That gives him four full weeks to shape up, or, well, obviously they won’t be shipping him out, but with Matt Kemp unlikely for Australia and possibly beyond, they’ll just want to make sure he's ready to play every day.
It shouldn't be too much of a problem for Puig to trim down in that time frame. He may even transform some of the added weight into muscle, which wouldn't be the worst thing. Either way, he's likely to enter 2014 with the same energy and flair we grew accustomed to during his dynamic rookie season, all while rendering this early spring story meaningless.
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