When the Los Angeles Dodgers hired Dave Roberts as manager, the overwhelming response from those with connected to the organization and outside of it, was positive.
Roberts is regarded for his ability to connect with people and it’s a strength the Dodgers hope will play a role in getting the best out of Yasiel Puig.
The 25-year-old Cuban native is currently under investigation by Major League Baseball for his role in a November fight outside a Miami bar, which allegedly began after Puig got physical with his sister.
However, there wasn’t evidence found to support that claim and while Puig won’t face criminal charges, he’s subject to disciplinary action handed down by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred under the league’s overhauled domestic violence policy.
That time appears to be at some point on Thursday and the meeting is one the Dodgers skipper is looking forward to, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I’m looking forward to spending time with him,” Roberts said. “Any player that has success, especially as a young player, then there’s injuries and you don’t have the year you expect to have, I would expect him to have a different outlook in ’16. This will be a big day for me and for him, our first opportunity to be face to face. I’m just going to be honest with him, let him know what our expectations are of him. And for the most part, players have higher expectations than coaches or even the media. It should be good.”
Along with the incident in Miami, Puig’s turbulent offseason includes a former teammate referring to the outfielder as the ‘worst person’ he’s seen in baseball. A.J. Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez both refuted the notion and took responsibility for needing to foster a better relationship with their polarizing teammate.
Gonzalez also believes Roberts’ genuine personality and having Puig’s best interest in mind should bode well for the two establishing a strong connection.
Limited to just 79 games last season due to dealing with hamstring issues, Puig hit .255/.322/.436 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. He finished the season with a 111 wRC+, 66 strikeouts and 22 walks in 311 plate appearances.