From the Los Angeles Times — headlined “Yasiel Puig says he has more respect for the game,” which is just fantastically on-the-nose — comes a story about how the Dodgers are optimistic that this is the year Puig turns a corner, maturity-wise. Part of that? The fact that he arrived to camp early.
Puig said he did so because he wants to elevate his game and be talked about as one of the best players in baseball. And not just baseball, really, as he cited Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the sort of stars and leaders he’d like to emulate. And here’s how his team views that sort of drive:
Position players don’t have to be at Camelback Ranch until Wednesday, but Puig reported here last week with the team’s pitchers and catchers.
“That’s the first step,” said hitting coach Mark McGwire . . . “He doesn’t have to be here,” McGwire said. “He’s been here a week prior to when he’s supposed to be here. He could have stayed away today, but look at what he’s doing.”
Thank God he doesn’t play for the Yankees. If he did, some anonymous executive’s head might explode.
Beyond that: a lot of stuff in there about how Puig is vowing to show earlier to the park, work harder and listen to his coaches and teammates more. Given how the Puig narrative has gone in the past couple of years, this is a story worth bookmarking in the event a PuigSplosion hits at some point this season. Or, in case one doesn’t.