Craig Calcaterra

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig smiles as he warms up throwing the baseball during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Associated Press

Are we going to see a brand new Yasiel Puig this year?


It’s one thing when Yasiel Puig says that he’s going to work harder, that he wants to be a good teammate and that he is a dedicated member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s another thing for him to actually walk the walk. He said it last year and probably wasn’t in the best shape of his life, missed a lot of time and undercut the sentiment. He said it before that and was often late to work and clashed with his manager and teammates. All along he has drawn criticism of his teammates and his manager which is telling. Even if some criticism of Puig, particularly from the media, has been overblown, the fact that he has been a source of friction in the Dodgers clubhouse is undeniable.

It’s possible, however, that things truly have changed this year. Not because of anything Puig is saying, but because of what other people are saying. Notably, people who have not been predisposed, historically, to speak well of Puig. Guys like Clayton Kershaw, who say that Puig is impressing them this spring and that he’s putting in his work.

That sentiment is included in this excellent column from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. In it he talks about Puig’s better physical conditioning, his apparent engagement with teammates, which is much improved, and comments from Dave Roberts and others suggesting that Puig has made changes to the way he, as the ballplayers say, goes about his business.

Is it all worth believing? No, not yet. Ultimately what matters most is his production. The better it is the more room he has to be eccentric or aggravating. If he plays 150 games or more, is effective and if the Dodgers win, none of this matters too terribly much. Either way, Puig has talked the talk before and hasn’t always delivered.

But this is certainly worth bookmarking. We can check back in June or July to see if performance has matched promise.

Giddy-up! Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard ride horses to the ballpark

Lone Ranger

I swear that actual exhibition baseball games start today and that, as a result, there will be actual baseball content around here eventually. In the meantime, we continue the Pimp My Ride portion of Spring Training, focusing on how the players and coaches get to camp, not what they do once they get there.

A day after being upstaged by Joe Maddon’s Krieger Van, Yoenis Cespedes has a new ride. It’s a horse. And, as befitting any good cowboy, he has a sidekick in the form of Noah Syndergaard riding his Scout to Yo’s Silver:

That’s a nice walk, I guess. But I want to see a canter. Then get your English saddles and show us a bit of dressage. Show us that you have a strong all-around game, guys.

Move over, Yoenis: Joe Maddon brought a sweet ride to spring training too

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon gets in his van before a spring training baseball practice session Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, in Mesa, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Associated Press

Last week it was all about Yoenis Cespedes‘ crazy cars. He’s now moved on to a big Cespedes-style BBQ, it seems, so this week the older generation takes a turn showing off its wheels.

Joe Maddon, America’s Cool Dad, drove his 1976 Dodge van to Cubs camp in Mesa yesterday, with Earth Wind and Fire coming out of the sound system. When he parked, out of the van popped a bunch of coaches and players wearing what people in the 21st century kinda sorta think what people in the 1970s wore. Points for effort, I suppose. Oh, and the name of the van, for some reason, is “Cal State Fullerton.”

Maddon’s explanation: “It’s just one of those moments – whatever it takes to bring the group together, we’ll do it.” Which is pretty much Maddon’s m.o. for stuff like this, even if it usually comes later in the season to chill guys out.

Some of the scenes:


Oh, wait. That’s something else.