If there’s one person Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts shared the spotlight with at his introductory press conference on Tuesday morning, it was outfielder Yasiel Puig.
While Adrian Gonzalez and several others with ties to the Dodgers organization were present at the Dodger Stadium, Puig was not among them.
He’s currently under investigation by Major League Baseball for his role in a fight at a Miami bar on the night before Thanksgiving.
Charges will not be pressed, but Puig is still subject to being reprimanded by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred under the revamped domestic violence policy as one report indicated Puig got physical with his sister, sparking the incident.
Thus, Roberts inherits a team that’s won three consecutive National League West division titles, faces significant question marks in free agency and also has a dynamic outfielder on the roster perceived by some as a problem child.
“From the other side, he’s ultra-talented and a special player,” Roberts said of Puig, adding the two have never spoken.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know him and meeting him. I think this is gonna be a great opportunity to embrace him and I’m excited about it. He’s a tremendous baseball player.”
Roberts believes he’ll get the opportunity to meet Puig next month in Los Angeles. The 43-year-old rookie manager has otherwise hit the ground running in developing relationships with other players on the roster.
“I’ve personally talked to 15-16 players and had great conversations,” Roberts said. You see Adrian is here, which is special to me.
“And I’m going to go see Clayton [Kershaw] on Sunday and spend a day with him. I’m just in the mode of learning the players and building relationships. That’s my focus right now.”
As news of Roberts’ expected hire began to surface, it was divulged he said support from veteran players within the Dodgers clubhouse.
Gonzalez reiterated his confidence in Roberts being tabbed as Don Mattingly’s replacement. “I think he’s an incredible person and incredible baseball man,” Gonzalez said.
“He knows the game and knows how to play it numerous ways. … I think Dave is going to bring great energy and incredible passion for the game. He’s going to be able to rally everybody to get on the same page, everyone is going to play hard for him.”
The Dodgers first baseman also added he believes Roberts possesses the necessary personality and skill set to succeed in connecting with Puig.