Since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers in June 2013, Yasiel Puig has drawn countless praise, and frustrated teammates and opponents alike.
Puig recently made headlines for his involvement in a small scuffle with a bouncer outside a Miami bar last month.
The incident reportedly began when employees attempted to separate Puig from his sister after he got physical with her.
Major League Baseball is investigating the matter, which is one of now three alleged domestic violence cases they are looking into.
A recent article quoted one of Puig’s ex-teammates as calling the dynamic outfielder the ‘worst person’ he’s seen in baseball. The anonymous description is the latest in what’s seemingly been a perpetual string of criticism of Puig.
However, two of his teammates shed light on a different perspective. With Adrian Gonzalez explaining why he believes the relationships between Puig and his teammates is not beyond repair, via Scott Miller of Bleacher Report:
“I think for the most part, no,” Dodgers All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez told Bleacher Report during a telephone conversation this week. “I’m still a guy who believes in Yasiel’s heart and where he wants to go and where he wants to be. When I talk to him heart to heart, he explains to me that he wants to be the best he can be. Growing up, sometimes it takes awhile to break bad habits.”
A.J. Ellis also said some of the disconnect can be washed away and the 34-year-old catcher said he and other teammates need to accept responsibility for improving the relationship:
“I think they definitely can,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis told Bleacher Report this week in another telephone conversation. “I think there has to be give-and-take on both sides. As his teammates, we have to do a better job of encouraging him and reaching out to him. I know I do. And from Yasiel’s side, he has to continue to grow and to mature and to be accountable and understand that not all criticism is negative. I think trust has to be established, and maybe we missed that early.”
Gonzalez previously stated he believes Puig responds well to those who approach him with genuine intentions. It’s one reason why the first baseman believes Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will succeeded in connecting with the enigmatic outfielder.
For his part, Roberts said he was looking forward developing a positive relationship with Puig. Dodgers president of baseball operations believes the 25-year-old outfielder can be a significant contributor when healthy, and for that reason isn’t hellbent on trading Puig.
Limited to just 79 games last season due to dealing with hamstring issues, he hit .255/.322/.436 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. Puig finished the season with a 111 wRC+, 66 strikeouts and 22 walks in 311 plate appearances.
As some in the clubhouse publicly continues to defend Puig, his actions and demeanor next season will ultimately serve as indication of whether a maturation process has taken place.