Yasiel Puig became a favorite for Los Angeles Dodgers almost as soon as he reached the Major Leagues, and kept that status for most of his time with the team. However, his Dodgers tenure became marked with constant rumors about his conduct and perception both inside and outside the clubhouse.
Puig became a polarizing figure around the team and was even demoted to the Minors in 2016 after a failed trade attempt. The Dodgers’ decision to send him to the Cincinnati Reds last December followed years of trade rumors.
More reports had surfaced in the weeks prior indicating that Puig had lost trust in Dodgers management and was open to playing for a new team.
Puig criticized the thought process that led to the trade, saying that the Dodgers did not get anyone in return who could help the 2019 team the way he could have. He also freely admitted that he did not give his full effort for the Dodgers in 2018 because it was not a contract year for him.
For all the tension between Puig and the Dodgers, he does not hold anything against fans. In fact, he recently had nothing but praise for Dodgers fans, per ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez:
“That’s the best part and the biggest part I’m going to miss is all the fans in Los Angeles. Every day, when the game starts, yelling my name, start yelling all the other players’ names, supporting the team, nine innings straight. We’re losing by 5, 10, and the fans are still there. That’s [what I love most] about that city, and that’s why I’m going to miss it, and that’s why I want to say thank you to the fans in Los Angeles. I’m going to miss you guys. I love you, I still love you, and we’ll see you now in Los Angeles, April 15, but different team, different color.”
In recent years, Puig had improved his English and leveraged social media to better connect with fans. Friendly Twitter banter, including the invention of the hashtag #PuigYourFriend, helped improve his image off the field. Additionally, many fans loved his on-field flair that included plenty of bat flips and bat licks, though some in the media criticized his showmanship.
Puig faced his former team for the first time in a Cactus League game on Thursday, going 1-for-3, with a first-inning single off Hyun-Jin Ryu. He followed that up with a 1-for-2 showing, including a double and run scored, Friday night.