After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in June 2013, there was little Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig could do without being critiqued, which often came across as scrutiny.
Puig’s career took an unexpected turn this month when the Dodgers demoted their polarizing outfielder to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The decision came after the club was unable to move Puig prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline.
Playing in the Triple-A level for the first time in his career, Puig made an immediate by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs in his debut.
However, any positivity quickly washed away after Oklahoma City dropped back-to-back games, and the team’s attempt to blow off some steam was put into the national spotlight.
Multiple videos of players dancing, drinking and singing along to blaring music on a party bus went public, courtesy Puig’s Snapchat account.
In his first public comments since being optioned to the Minors, Puig acknowledged his mistake in uploading the videos, per Jacob Unruh of The Oklahoman:
“I really didn’t know how to use Snapchat. I was just playing around with my teammates. I just did something that was wrong.”
Puig also touched on the reasoning behind his demotion and striving to improve on the field and as a teammate:
“I’m here to become a better player. That was their decision. I don’t feel like this was a punishment. I feel like this is going to help me grow.
I’m here because I was not doing the right things over there. I’m here to improve myself, I’m here to become a better athlete again. That’s their position. Right now I’m going to focus on being better at the plate, being a better athlete and a better teammate. I need to do what my teammates are doing, because I’m not there. I don’t feel like I’m on the level that they are, so I need to work on that. I want to be a part of the team and be at the same level as my teammates.
My motivation to go back to the major leagues is be here early, be a better teammate and I have to be better as a person. I know I’m not a perfect guy, but I want to be a better teammate. That’s what I’m here for.”
The Snapchat saga in some sense galvanized the team as Oklahoma City has rattled off five consecutive victories. Puig has also continued to do well at the plate, and nearly hit for the cycle on Friday night.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman spoke optimistically about Puig recapturing his old form while in the Minors, though Puig’s future with the franchise remains a blurry picture.