When Yasiel Puig joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013 he formed strong friendships with Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe. The trio remained teammates through the 2014 season before the triumvirate began to come undone.
Ramirez departed for the Boston Red Sox via free agency, and in May 2015 the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe to the Atlanta Braves. Beyond Ramirez and Uribe, Puig has also formed a close bond with Adrian Gonzalez.
During a recent interview in which he covered goals for this season and growing as a player, Puig thanked Gonzalez for the mentorship he’s provided, via MLB.com:
“It’s no secret that being a professional baseball player has been a process for me, and I have to thank Adrian Gonzalez for keeping me on track. It’s know it’s hard for him to support me and try to guide me when I haven’t listened in the past, but I feel like I’m finally paying attention and I’ve been playing better baseball and learning because of it.”
Following the 2015 season, Gonzalez said he believed being genuine is key to connecting with Puig. The veteran added manager Dave Roberts possessed the type of personality that would be conducive to a positive player-manager relationship.
Since being named an All-Star in 2014, Puig has endured a turbulent seasons marred by habitual hamstring injuries. The Dodgers reportedly shopped Puig last year and when they were unable to move him, demoted the enigmatic outfielder to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Puig returned to the Majors last September with a renewed attitude and focus. He platooned with Josh Reddick, though now has the starting job in right field to himself. This season Puig is the only Dodgers player to have started in all 16 games.
He’s batting .273/.373/.545 with three doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI and perhaps most impressive, 10 walks. Puig finished with just 24 walks in 368 plate appearances over 104 games last season.
In addition to maintaining a consistent work ethic, the 26-year-old has placed an emphasis on elevating the ball this year.