In his six seasons in Los Angeles, Yasiel Puig was often late arriving to games. He was late again to Dodger Stadium on Monday, this time to his own ring ceremony
The Los Angeles Dodgers tried to honor their former teammate Yasiel Puig when the outfielder made his return to Dodger Stadium on Monday night. Puig, though, decided to show he hadn’t learned a thing since the club gave up on him this offseason.
Puig, along with outfielder Matt Kemp, infielder Kyle Farmer and pitcher Alex Wood, played their first game back in Los Angeles on Monday since they were traded to the Cincinnati Reds in December. To welcome them back, the Dodgers were going to present them with championship rings celebrating their second straight National League pennant a year ago. When the impromptu ceremony began outside the Reds clubhouse, Kemp, Farmer and Wood were there. Puig was nowhere to be found.
Puig arrived at Dodger Stadium late and missed the ceremony. He was also more than an hour late for a scheduled session with local media. This type of behavior should be shocking from a professional baseball player. Unfortunately, the Dodgers are only too familiar with it.
Puig arrived in Los Angeles out of Cuba in 2013 with plenty of talent but also a lot of growing up to do. At the same time he could hit mammoth home runs, run the bases with reckless abandon and unleash powerful throws from right field, he was also constantly late arriving at the ballpark, took plays off and ignored coaches. Several Dodgers players and coaches say he routinely tore up the outfield position chart they gave him before games. He had all the ability to be an All-Star player but none of the maturity.
After six years in Los Angeles, the Dodgers finally had enough and dealt the 28-year-old to Cincinnati. He ended his career in Dodger Blue with a .279 AVG and 108 home runs in 712 games.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times ran a retrospective of Puig’s time in Los Angeles as he prepared to make his return. In it, former teammates and coaches agreed that Puig had plenty of potential but didn’t want to work to fulfill it.
“The talent is off the charts,” third baseman Justin Turner told the Times’ Andy McCullough. “He could be one of the best players in the game. But the frustrating part is when you don’t see him necessarily having the desire to be as good as he could be.”
Puig himself seems to recognize his shortcomings. He said this offseason he’s going to play hard this year for the Reds because he becomes a free agent after the season. To hear him say that, in effect admitting that he never played hard for the Dodgers, upset manager Dave Roberts.
“I was disappointed to read that he said now that he’s a free agent, he’s going to work harder and practice and be the best he can be,” Roberts told McCullough. “That’s what everyone around him here was doing. For him to come out and say he didn’t give his best effort for us, it’s very disappointing. And it just shows that this probably wasn’t the right place for him.”
Puig had a chance to show the Dodgers he’s changed since the trade to Cincinnati. Instead, he was the same player they came to know for the past six seasons. Puig decided to do things his own way in Los Angeles, and his unceremonious absence from the ring presentation is a fitting ending to his ties to the Dodgers.