Yasiel Puig is going to slow it down this year

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I’ll believe it when I see it — I feel like it’s going to take a big injury for Puig to be anything less than a race car in the red, in every sense of the term — but Dylan Hernandez reports that the Dodgers are working on slowing down Yasiel Puig:

“The fans go to the stadium to enjoy themselves,” Puig said in Spanish. “After work, they spend their free time watching us play. We have to do our best to entertain them.”

Puig did that last season with a hair-raising style of play, electrifying crowds in becoming one of baseball’s top draws as a rookie. However, Puig also acknowledges he has to be more restrained on the field, admitting he has to be smarter on the bases and learn when to hit the cutoff man rather than throw directly to the plate from right field.

I like that Puig acknowledges that he’s an entertainer. I feel like baseball would be more fun if more players felt that way. But yeah, hitting the cutoff man kind of matters. As does not chasing balls a foot out of the strike zone.

If he can manage to stay intense and fun while refining his game, he’ll be the biggest thing ever. If he just does one or the other he’ll still be worth watching, even if he’s got issues. If he ratchets things back and doesn’t improve, man, snoozeville.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.