It took 56 games for a Los Angeles Dodgers player to make an electrifying, game-saving play to win a game this season. That player wasn’t named Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or Hanley Ramirez. Don’t even think about saying Luis Cruz or Ramon Hernandez.
Let me introduce you to Yasiel Puig, who was making his major league debut on Monday night. The 22-year-old Cuban phenom raced to the wall to catch a deep drive by Kyle Blanks at the warning track, then fired a missile to first base on the fly that doubled off a stunned Chris Denorfia for the final out in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Check out the video here and see for yourself. Go ahead and click on it again. It’s worth watching more than once.
For at least one night, the hype equaled the expectations for Puig, who has been waiting in the minors all season to get his first Chavez Ravine opportunity. He not only dazzled with his arm, but also got two singles, and showed flashes of his great speed on the base paths. At 245 pounds, it’s pretty amazing how fast he can run. Scouts started taking notice of him in Spring Training when he had a triple-slash of .527/.509/.855.
They called him the next Bo Jackson. If Bo doesn’t know Yasiel, I bet he knows now.
He was the first Dodger two have two hits in his debut since Russell Martin accomplished the feat in 2006. He also was the first Dodger to bat leadoff in his debut since Jose Offerman in 1990. Longtime Dodgers fans remember Offerman for being a bust while in L.A. The hope for manager Don Mattingly is that Puig doesn’t follow the route of Offerman, but the path of Los Angeles Angels phenom Mike Trout.
“(Trout) came up and things completely turned around with what he brought the table,” Mattingly told the media on Monday. “It’s unfair to say that happens here, but he could make a big impact.”
He definitely did that on Monday and Puig may be the spark the Dodgers need to get going, especially on a night when Carl Crawford joined fellow outfielder Kemp on the disabled list. Dodgers fans should be careful, however. Puig will have his bad days, and expecting him to be a Greek God every night is pretty unfair, even if he looked and played like one on Monday.