The learning curve continues for the Dodgers' young phenom Yasiel Puig. Manager Don Mattingly, already a man short on the bench, pulled Puig from today's game against the Cubs before the 5th inning and held a post-game meeting with his budding star. The closed-door meeting lasted for 30 minutes and included general manager Ned Colletti, said ESPN LA. The manager wouldn't talk about it afterward, but Puig acknowledged his mind had been wandering.
Puig said Mattingly explained his removal had to do with his defensive readiness.
"I always give my best but, honestly, today there was some fatigue and I wasn't prepared," Puig said in Spanish.
Puig said he agreed with Mattingly's decision.
"The meeting was good," Puig said. "He explained what every ballplayer has to do on the field, not only me but every ballplayer. We have to give 100 percent on the field, even if we're tired or if we're playing in games like today. We've got to give 100 percent to help the team. If I'm in the lineup Friday I'll give my best effort and if not I'll wait until I can help."
Pitcher Ricky Nolasco became the latest Dodger to say publicly that Puig has some maturing to do. "What he did was unacceptable," Nolasco said without elaborating. "He's young. He's going to have to learn." The Cuban outfielder is 22 years old and has only played American baseball for parts of this season and last. He's far from polished and everyone accepts that, but the Dodgers would like to see him stop repeating some of his mistakes. That all said, his career is off to a pretty heady start: only one active player got to 100 lifetime hits faster than Puig, and that is potential Hall of Fame outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
More takes from the beat guys — here's Ken Gurnick at MLB.com, who notes that team president Stan Kasten also joined the meeting with Puig:
The media guide says Don Mattingly has three children, but then there's 22-year-old Yasiel Puig, and the "timeout" the Dodgers manager gave the rookie for questionable "effort" in the middle of Wednesday's game was strictly of the parental variety.
OK, best I can figure, based on what little information we were able to cull from the rather bizarre postgame scene downstairs, is that the last straw with Yasiel Puig had to do with his reaction to striking out for the second out in the third inning. Not his immediate reaction, when he went back to the dugout, but rather when he returned to right field one batter later, after Carl Crawford flied out to end the inning.
Instead of jogging back to his position, I’m told Puig WALKED to right field — and it’s a long walk from the third-base dugout to right field. Meanwhile, center fielder Andre Ethier was in position, ready for his traditional between-innings warmup throws with the right fielder, only there was no right fielder.
I seriously doubt, however, that this incident alone warranted Puig being yanked from the game when he was, nor did it warrant a postgame, closed-door meeting in Don Mattingly‘s office with Mattingly, Puig and general manager Ned Colletti. This was more a culmination of all of the issues the Dodgers have had with Puig, who is always going to be a delicate player to handle, especially when you stop and consider whether this team would be in the position it’s in without him.
I honestly couldn’t believe Puig actually spoke to the media afterward, but he did, and so I applaud him for it.
For all his amazing talent, it is repeatedly clear that he lacks basic baseball fundamentals. Cuba might have super-talented baseball teams, but apparently its players don’t come up through the ranks learning the game’s finer points.
Raw and brash can sometimes make for a rough combo, which Puig’s short major league bio has continually demonstrated. So we have this convergence of youth, crazy ability, poor fundamental development and Michael Jordan confidence.
And sometimes it doesn’t work too well. So you let him know, give him direction and then send him out to try it again.
The Dodgers won 4-0 without Puig. He is expected to start Friday's game after the team's off-day on Thursday, Mattingly said.
ESPN screen grab