Posted on August 30, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
In a recent interview with ESPN’s Marly Rivera, Los Angeles Dodgers outfield Yasiel Puig spoke candidly about being demoted to the minors, the lessons he’s learned this year, and his hopes for his future. After back-to-back disappointing seasons for Puig, the Dodgers demoted him to triple-A earlier this month, and just a few days ago the team placed Puig on revocable waivers, opening the door for a team to work out a trade for him.
Not surprisingly, Puig says he would have welcomed a trade to another team rather than the Dodgers sending him to triple-A. He also says that watching the Dodgers go on a run without him and take first place in the NL West away from the San Francisco Giants has been difficult to watch from a distance.
“The moment I arrived in L.A., people were crazy for me — 50-60 thousand people [cheering] at the stadium. I got used to that amount of fans. Getting to Triple-A and not seeing as many fans is not very appealing or fun to play baseball, but this is what I have to do for my future,” Puig told Rivera.
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Puig adds that he’s grateful for the time he’s spent in the minors, as it has helped to teach him humility. One could say that Puig was in need of some humility following the controversy that involved images of Puig and his triple-A teammates partying after a loss popping up on social media.
“I do not know what the future will hold in the next few hours. I don’t know where I will go,” Puig says. “I don’t know my fate. God only knows my destiny, and I am here to fulfill it. He gave me many opportunities, the way [the Dodgers] did, and I put myself in this situation.”
Puig also says that he’s apologized to both current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly for his behavior during his major league career. In the past, Puig has been late to batting practice and meetings, giving him the reputation as someone who lacks professionalism and is not a hard worker or a team player.
In 18 games at triple-A since his demotion, Puig has hit .369 with four home runs, three doubles, and one triple, giving him an OPS of 1.045. Despite his impressive performance on the field, he knows there’s no guarantee the Dodgers will bring him back when rosters expand in September. “All I can do is try to improve what I did wrong, the things that got me sent me here,” Puig said. “The rest does not depend on me, that’s [a decision for] the GM, the president. Only God knows where I will end up.”
When asked if he had any advice for his younger self, he answered: “I would give him the same advice I would be asking for right now. I would sit with him face-to-face and then tell him the things that he has been doing wrong, the things he should do better to be a better teammate and stay in the big leagues, all the things that were never done with him.”
On the surface, it appears that his stint in the minors has done Puig a lot of good. It has perhaps taught him that it’s time for him to grow up. His talent will almost certainly give him another opportunity in the big leagues, even if it’s not this season or with the Dodgers. But without more maturity and professionalism, Puig’s next stint in the majors may not go much better than the last two seasons.
If a team were to claim him, that team could work out a trade with the Dodgers before the end of August, possibly allowing Puig to make an impact the final month of the major league season. If not, it’ll be up to the Dodgers to decide whether they want to bring him back for September, as Los Angeles tries to secure a spot in the postseason. Based on their play of late, the Dodgers may not need Puig to help get them there, leaving his future even more up in the air.