The Los Angeles Dodgers formally introduced manager Dave Roberts with a press conference held inside the Dodger Stadium Club on Tuesday.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was seated onstage to Roberts’ left, with general manager Farhan Zaidi sitting to the skipper’s right.
Dodgers legends and special advisors to the chairman Tommy Lasorda and Don Newcombe were in attendance, and so was part owner Magic Johnson.
As for active players, Adrian Gonzalez took a seat in a sectioned-off row. While the day was very much about Roberts, it didn’t take long for Yasiel Puig’s name to be mentioned.
Puig is currently under investigation by Major League Baseball for his role in a fight at a Miami bar the night before Thanksgiving.
Puig claims he acted out of self defense, while the bouncer he struck says he was sucker-punched. Charges won’t be pressed by either side.
The Dodgers front office have made it clear Roberts was hired in large part due to their trusting in his ability to lead and connect with players. Gonzalez believes his new manager has the necessary personality and skill set to develop a relationship with Puig.
“When you have a guy like Dave who is going to come in with an incredible ability to connect, [Puig] will see it from the first moment Dave is not after his own agenda,” Gonzalez said.
“He’s going to be looking out for Puig’s own personal interest for his career, for the best of him.” The approach is one Gonzalez took with Puig and received positive feedback from.
“From my experience, Puig responds well to genuine people; when he understands there’s no agenda and people really just care for him,” Gonzalez said.
“I think that’s one reason why he’s really responded well to me. I told him from day one I don’t want anything from you. When I tell you something it’s for your own good. I’m not doing it because I’m trying to get something out of you or I’m trying to get something for myself.”
Puig is coming off a season in which hamstring injuries required multiple stints on the disabled list. As a result, he appeared in a career-low 79 games, batting .255/.322/.436 with 11 home runs, 12 doubles and 38 RBIs.
Identified by Friedman as one of the team’s ‘wild cards’ heading into the 2016 season, Gonzalez also believes the dynamic outfielder is key for success.
“If we can get the best of [Puig], we can get the best for the team. I think Puig will respond because he’ll see that Dave is being incredibly genuine and wants the best for him.”