Dodgers News: Yasiel Puig Felt Pressure To Meet Expectations
Nam Y. Huh-AP Photo

For the first time in his young career, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was demoted to the Minors. To Puig’s credit, he accepted the decision and used it as motivation to improve, and he subsequently earned a call-up in September.

The Dodgers’ decision to send Puig to Triple-A Oklahoma City came on the heels of failed attempts to trade the polarizing outfielder prior to the non-waiver deadline. At the time of being sent down, Puig was batting .260/.320/.386 with 10 doubles, seven home runs and 34 RBIs.

Puig’s .706 on-base plus slugging percentage was the lowest mark of his four-year career. Upon rejoining the Dodgers, Puig posted a .900 OPS over 23 games (13 starts) during the final month of the regular season.

The 26-year-old recently stated a desire to again become an everyday player, whether it be for the Dodgers or another club. The prospect of that occurring in Los Angeles is of course performance-driven.

At the very least, Puig may be up to the mental challenge as he’s no longer concerned with external expectations, according to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:

“I just thought I was very anxious to meet all the expectations,” Puig said. “That’s something that I’ve cleared out of my mind. I asked God to help me to go out there, to respect my teammates and respect myself. That way, I can better myself.”

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and third baseman Justin Turner recently spoke highly of Puig, saying they remain optimistic that he can contribute at the big league level this season.

Overall in 104 games (81 starts) with the Dodgers last season, Puig batted .263/.323/.416 with 14 doubles, 11 home runs, 45 RBIs and a 101 OPS+.

The Dodgers outfield landscape remains crowded, with Joc Pederson cemented in center field, and the corner outfield spots up for grabs. Andre Ethier, Kiké Hernandez, Puig, Trayce Thompson and Andrew Toles will be among those vying for time.