Posted on September 26, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
With the postseason a little more than a week away, Yasiel Puig is stirring up trouble for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Puig was benched by manager Dave Roberts Monday after he showed up late to batting practice. Roberts also benched Puig on Sunday after he failed to slide while attempting to steal second base during Saturday’s game. Puig claimed that he couldn’t slide because of an ankle injury but did not visit the team’s trainer to receive treatment on Sunday.
“Yasiel has been great all year, but to be frank, there was a situation where he was supposed to be on the field today and he was late,” Roberts said after Monday’s game. “Where we’re at right now, it has to be clear to everyone in the clubhouse that the only purpose is to prepare for the postseason, to finish the season strong and for it to be about all of us. I think, and I know, no one player can be bigger than the team. The priority has got to be for all of us. For me right now, that was a decision that he made, not me.”
The 26-year old Puig has stirred up plenty of trouble in recent years. After a sensational rookie season in 2013, Puig’s effort and attitude have been questioned on multiple occasions. His performance has also been inconsistent. It got to the point that the Dodgers optioned Puig to the minors for a month last season to help him refocus and get his priorities in order.
Puig returned to the Dodgers last season and played well enough down the stretch to be included on the team’s postseason roster. He’s carried that over into 2017 and had a resurgent season. Puig is currently hitting .259 with an OPS of .814. He’s also set career-highs in home runs (23), RBIs (70), and stolen bases (15). Puig has also kept things drama free, at least until the last few days.
“It’s very disappointing, but he’s made tremendous strides and he’s had a tremendous season,” Roberts said. “I never like talking about a particular player, especially in this context, especially this time of year. I think this is something that, again, it’s unfortunate. All year long he’s been great. He and I have talked many times about accountability. I think this is one of those situations where he has to be accountable.”
Despite Puig being benched, he still appears to be in line for a prominent role during the postseason. The Dodgers have a slew of other outfield options. However, Curtis Granderson, Alex Verdugo, and Joc Pederson have all struggled in September. With those three struggling offensively, Cody Bellinger the best option at first base, and Andre Ethier coming back from injury, Puig remains the best option in right field for the Dodgers.
The silver lining for Los Angeles is that Roberts doesn’t appear overly concerned about Puig moving forward. He made it a point to say that no one is above the team. However, Roberts appears confident that Puig will respond appropriately and get everything squared away heading into the playoffs.
“Yasiel and I and his teammates are on the same page,” Roberts said. “It’s one of those things where you gotta be accountable for one another. We’re all aligned, and our only focus is winning baseball games and winning a championship for the Dodgers.”