Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hasn’t been able to escape being peppered by questions about Yasiel Puig since his introductory press conference in December. At the time, Roberts was asked for his perception of Puig and how he intended to manage the enigmatic outfielder.
More recently, Roberts has critiqued, evaluated and offered reason(s) for optimism as Puig is among the several Dodgers who have scuttled at the plate — in part due to some bad luck and an overzealous approach.
Puig found success on Friday that had largely evaded him over the past few weeks, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored, one home run and two RBIs. “The important part is the team won,” Puig said through an interpreter after his first multi-hit game since May 4.
“I was trying to get hits, even in other games, I was just able to get three on [Friday].” In a post to his Twitter account prior to the series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, Puig shared a photo of Kiké Hernandez’s bat attached to electronic stimulation devices.
The caption included “Puig’s bats next.” He joked it perhaps was part of the reason for Friday’s performance. Puig conducted the postgame interview wearing a “#PUIGNOTLATE” shirt and “Make Baseball Fun Again” hat.
Puig previously stated his intention to join the campaign Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is currently the poster child for.
For Roberts, Puig’s showing at the plate was only a matter of time. “He’s been working hard, and like we’ve talked about, the last few days he’s had good at-bats, hit the ball hard, but had nothing to show for it,” the first-year manager said. “Then, today he got rewarded.”
Puig dismissed the notion he’d grown frustrated over hard-hit balls that nonetheless found gloves during the four-game set with the New York Mets. “I was just asking God to hit hard. If they fielded it, I don’t have an issue with that,” he said. “I’d rather go out like that than on a bad pitch.”
Puig did, however, concede he’s taken a step back after a subpar stretch at the plate. “At first I was getting ahead of myself,” he said. “But then I realized it’s a long season and it was only the first month. Now I don’t feel that way.”
While Puig’s success at the plate, or lack thereof, may be a talking point, he’s well aware of the impact he can have regardless of how hot or cold his bat is. “If I don’t help with my offense, then I have to help with my defense,” Puig said.
“That’s why the manager still trusts me. At the end of the day, if we keep winning games, then Puig’s numbers don’t matter.”