The most highly scrutinized player coming into Spring Training this season will no doubt be the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. For Puig, this Spring Training leading up to his second season as a major leaguer in 2014 could make or break his entire career. His actions from here will highly scrutinized, and it starts with Spring Training in 2014.
Puig has recently admitted that he might actually try to scale back some of his antics on and off the field. What that means remains to be seen, but the most important part of that admission is that fact that he made it at all. It’s fair to expect some kind of maturation from Puig coming into his sophomore season and his first full season after being called up, but there’s no reason to expect him to change completely.
Even the great Sandy Koufax recently defended Puig’s showmanship, talking about how it comes from a passion for the game. It’s certainly good for the fans. I had the chance to witness one of his amazing throws from right field to third base to nab a surprised runner. The fans went nuts … for a defensive play. That’s good for baseball.
What is not good for baseball is getting arrested, losing your cool in the dugout and ignoring your manager. These are not chronic problems for Puig yet, but they could end up being issues if they continue. Not hitting your cutoff man, running too aggressively on the base paths and swinging wildly at bad pitches are all things that can be improved upon.
He set the bar so high for himself, it’s no wonder he tried too hard to impress. He took baseball fans on a first date they’ll never forget, but he needs to realize that sometimes, just some flowers and a homemade dinner will suffice on your average night. In other words, he just needs to focus on helping the team win.
Puig’s following will be crazy this season for sure, and it’s up to him and the coaching staff to manage his expectations and his maturation process right off the bat during Spring Training. It should be an interesting 2014 season for Puig and the Dodgers.