It was a quiet 2015 season for Yasiel Puig. Largely because he was hurt and ineffective almost all year and we tend not to hear all that much about non-factors like that. Partially, however, because Puig did not, at least as far as the public knows, get into any notable controversies with his teammates. If his past greatest hits — being late, generally being a screwup — continued in 2015, there weren’t many reports about them.
But two things put Puig back in the news recently: (1) Andy Van Slyke’s claim — denied by everyone in a position to know — that “the highest-paid Dodgers player” told Dodgers management that Puig must be removed from the team; and (b) the altercation Puig recently had at a Miami nightclub.
This inspired Scott Miller of Bleacher Report to do a story about where Puig stands in the eyes of his teammates these days. According to Miller, he doesn’t stand too terribly tall:
He is the worst person I’ve ever seen in this game,” one ex-Dodger who believes Puig is beyond redemption said flatly. “Ever.”
Players currently on the Dodgers are not so stark about it, at least on the record. A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez and others, all totally acknowledging that Puig has had some serious problems with the sort of professionalism and maturity players expect from their teammates, all deny that Puig is irredeemable.
Gonzalez, the closest thing Puig has to a mentor and who probably deserves sainthood for being the defacto Puig point man, thinks Puig will figure it out eventually. Even Ellis, who would appear to be part of the camp that is most exasperated with Puig, gives a nod to the idea that he and his teammates need to try to meet Puig a little bit of the way too. In all of this you get the feeling that, however much dysfunction there is here, everyone realizes that it’s better to try to build bridges than devolve to open warfare.
Ultimately, however, you get the sense that if Puig were hitting .320/.390/.540 or whatever it was he was doing in 2013, everyone would be way cooler with his schtick, with the shower shoes/fungus/win 20 in the show/colorful dynamic coming in to play. As far as that goes, Puig’s health and commitment to being in better shape — and even without the hamstring injury, Puig did not seem to be in the best shape he could be last year — is more important to him adhering to the on-time-is-late, early-is-on-time custom of baseball clubhouses.
So, as with most things, it all comes down to playing well. If Puig plays well, this all takes care of itself.