J.P. Howell: Yasiel Puig was bullied in the Dodger clubhouse

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Bullying has been all over the sports landscape recently. The Incognito-Martin thing most obviously. Earlier this week the Tigers won MLB’s philanthropic award for the team’s anti-bullying initiative. And outside of sports bullying has become something that people are talking about and taking increasingly seriously as a threat to young people.

Against that backdrop, Dodgers pitcher J.P. Howell — whose wife Heather has written an anti-bullying book aimed at young kids — spoke to the L.A. Times about bullying. And in the course of his comments he let an interesting nugget drop:

Howell said he saw Yasiel Puig bullied in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, though he would not discuss who was involved, or what happened to Puig.

“The guy is such a champion,” Howell said. “He has such a big heart. Sometimes he acts like a jerk, but that is his defense mechanism. It’s not really him.

Howell said this after describing an incident that happened to him as a rookie that is usually described as hazing: he had his suit shredded by someone and not replaced. Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” and many other baseball anecdotes describe players’ shoes being nailed to the floor and other activities which, depending on who describes them, can be referred to as pranks or goofs or hazing or, yes, bullying.

Did Dodgers players prank or haze Puig like many other rookies have been pranked or hazed before? Did they treat him differently? Or, whether it was different or the same, did Puig take it as an acceptable rite-of-passage, or was it harmful?

My guess is we won’t know. That neither Puig nor other Dodgers will talk about it or will, at best, downplay it as nothing. And we may even see Howell backtrack some if this turns into a big story instead of remaining a mere anecdote.

But we haven’t really had this conversation in baseball before. If we do now, I suspect it will be pretty fascinating.

George Springer exits game with hamstring injury

George Springer
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Astros right fielder George Springer left Friday’s game with yet another injury, this one on a sliding catch attempt in the eighth inning. As Springer converged with Yuli Gurriel and Aledmys Díaz on a high pop-up, he slid into foul territory and appeared to be in moderate discomfort after getting up.

From the replay, it looked as through Springer might have felt some pain in his left hamstring, but the Astros have yet to comment on the exact nature or severity of his injury. After exiting the field, he was promptly replaced by Josh Reddick in the right field corner, while Tony Kemp entered the game to take over in left.

It’s been a rough month for the 29-year-old outfielder, who narrowly avoided a trip to the injured list after missing four games with lower back stiffness earlier this week. Following the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Red Sox, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters he’s “not looking forward to the diagnosis” this time around, and expects to place Springer on the IL until he can work back to full strength.