There’s been a lot of talk recently about Yasiel Puig being immature, both on and off the field.
Before you buy into these rumors, consider a few things. First of all, he a 22-year-old who is a sudden superstar in a foreign country. He also never grew up watching MLB while living in Cuba, so he has no idea who is a “legend” or “star” in the league. So, when he “disrespects” them by treating them like anyone else, he gets a bad rap for it.
He’s also been accused of being arrogant by players like Ian Kennedy, to which Puig said:
"That's my game. I'm going to play my baseball the way I play. We don't like the way [Gerardo] Parra plays or the way Montero plays, but we don't go to the press or anybody and talk about how we don't like it, because we're more reserved."
And what about all that talk of “playing with arrogance:”
"I learned to play that way as a kid. I always like to play aggressive and always try to put on a show for the fans. They [the fans] come to spend their time and lose sleep watching us play. It is one, to me, of the more emotional things in baseball."
THAT’s probably what’s making players mad. Puig plays hard, makes the fans happy, and makes other players look bad in the process. Baseball isn’t gaining popularity, but Puig is certainly helping get some borderline fans more interested.
No one likes the new guy at work who works hard because that’s just how he is, because he makes all of the lifers look bad. That’s Puig.
Luckily, the guys who spend the most time with him, like his teammate Mark Ellis, don’t have a problem with him (which could be because the Dodgers have suffered injuries all season long, so in this case instead of making them jealous, his success is buoying the clubhouse):
"He just gets attacked for no reason. He's a great kid. All he's done is come in here and make our team better. So what if he rubs the opponents the wrong way? I don't care. He's on my team. I couldn't care less if somebody from our division rival doesn't like what he does. Then, to have people run with it like they do and make things up about him -- that players in our clubhouse are jealous of him -- is a joke. He has a different flair. Not everybody is an average guy out there. Nobody would watch baseball if everybody was like me. You need guys like him that are entertaining."
With regard to his bad rep with the media, well, Puig explained that when he was in Cuba, his comments were taken out of context and made him look bad. And that was in his country where everyone speaks the same language. Now, imagine being in a new country where you only partially know the language. Would you want to talk?
And what about all that stuff with Puig disrespecting Luis Gonzalez? Puig said:
"Yes, I did get to meet him in Arizona. I was with my hitting coach [Mark] McGwire. He presented him [Gonzalez] to me. I don't know why those reports have come out. They are going to try and fix the problem today or in the upcoming days. I did greet him. If they keep saying those things, I can't do anything about it. My thing is to play baseball and not worry what the press says."
Don Mattingly was asked about Puig too and said, "These guys [his teammates] would fight for him, and I think you're seeing that.”
There were even criticisms that Puig was getting a woman’s number the other day. Do I need to remind you about when A-Rod threw a ball to a girl with his number on it.
Seriously, he’s a young guy in a new country who has had superstardom that he probably doesn’t even fully understand thrust upon him. He’ll wisen up, but as long as the media keeps trying to tear him down with petty complaints by likely jealous MLB players, then he’s going to have a tough time. Luckily, he seems mentally strong enough to let it all roll off his back.