Yasiel Puig debuts his bat, but his arm steals the show for Dodgers

Yasiel Puig showed that he can hit in his MLB debut, but his arm won the game Photo: Yasiel Puig singles in his first MLB at-bat/AP Mark J. Terrill

LOS ANGELES, June 4, 2013 — The Los Angeles Dodgers finally called up prized prospect Yasiel Puig to start Monday night’s game against the San Diego Padres. The rookie showed that he has the talent to help this floundering Dodger team win games.

The move was not necessarily made because Puig had figured everything out he needed to in the minors, but because the injury riddled Dodgers are in need of a lot and anything will help. By all accounts, Puig could use some more time in the minor leagues to work on his fielding.

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On Monday night, the Cuban defector, Puig, went 2 for 4 at the plate, including getting a single in his first major league at-bat. Both of his hits were singles.

It was Puig’s defense, however, that made national headlines. In the top of the ninth inning, with one out and San Diego’s Chris Denorfia on first base, Brandon League was on the mound. The Dodgers were leading, 2-1. Dodger fans were naturally worried.

Kyle Blanks came to the plate for the Padres and hit a line drive to deep right field. Yasiel Puig, in one fluid motion, caught the ball and threw from the warning track to Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Puig’s throw was just in time to double up Denorfia and end the game.

Puig’s body size and speed drew comarison’s to Bo Jackson during spring training. Now it is his arm drawing comparisons to the former baseball and football player.

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Yasiel Puig is expected to provide a spark to the Dodgers’ lineup, but one man can only do so much. Just ask Adrian Gonzalez, who hit his eighth homerun of the season, how much one man can do to help his team. Puig’s bat is definitely mighty and will help the Los Angeles offense.

His glove and his arm may be more of what the Dodgers need right now. The Dodgers lead the majors with 44 errors. The St. Louis Cardinals have the least errors with 19.

The question as to what comes next is twofold. First, can Yasiel Puig’s .313 average, eight homers and 13 stolen bases from AA Chattanooga carry over to the majors in a sustainable fashion? The second part of the question becomes, what do the Dodgers do if Puig does perform well in the majors?

When Crawford and Kemp return, the Dodgers’ outfield will again be loaded, not so much with talent, but definitely flush with cash. Carl Crawford makes over $20 million, as does Matt Kemp. Both are on the DL right now with hamstring injuries.

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Andre Ethier, who moved to centerfield on Monday night, is making $13.5 million this year. He is under contract for four more years after this season. Next year he will make $15.5 million and then his contract jumps into the $18 million dollar range the following year.

The Dodgers are hoping Puig hits and fields well, but they will face a tough decision of what to do if he does. One would assume the Dodgers are furiously trying to figure out which outfielder can be traded for the best prospects and how much of the bloated contract they will be forced to eat to make a trade.

Kevin J. Wells writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music.  Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball


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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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