The Yasiel Puig excitement is palpable … but

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Call this a deep thought. And it’s even one I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, so it’s a recycled deep thought. But given how the heat around Yasiel Puig is rising, I feel like it’s still timely.

Puig, the Dodgers’ young Cuban import, has been hitting the friggin’ cover off the ball this spring. He’s hitting .527/.509/.855 through 16 Cactus League games this spring, and despite the fact that the Dodgers’ outfield would appear to be set with Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, Puig is still on the big league roster so he may very well break camp with the team.

For a couple of weeks we’ve been hearing comparisons of Puig to other established stars like Vladimir Guerrero and physical beasts like Bo Jackson. Today Buster Olney has a big writeup on him which talks about some of that. There will be more in the coming days.

I also predict a bright future for Puig because he is so damn strong and big and fast and, at this point in his career, defensively versatile.  Seeing him rake in the multiple Dodgers games I witnessed in Arizona in late February and early March was easily the highlight of my spring training trip, and the biggest baseball-related takeaway. He was quite impressive. But I also remember seeing him swing at fastballs in his eyes a lot and seeing him do is worst damage late in games against marginal pitching talent or when guys were behind in counts and had runners on base and just needed to get something over.

Which, hey, to be an awesome hitter you have to hit slop too. But I also feel like major league pitching has something pretty harsh in store for him at first. Specifically, lots of stuff out of the strike zone which he has to show he won’t offer at all the time. The kind of stuff you simply don’t see a ton of in spring training, at least not early. Puig may very well have his own adjustments in store too. He may anticipate that no one will give him good stuff to hit, he may exceed expectations and make a giant splash once the bell rings.  But I’m a bit skeptical right now.

I’m not hating on him. Just saying that, if Puig is to be a big star, as I feel he could be, it could take a while, that’s all. He’s green.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.