The Dodgers' nightmare: Yasiel Puig runs over a teammate

The Dodgers' nightmare: Yasiel Puig runs over a teammate
Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke nearly collided while chasing down a Jhonny Peralta fly ball in the fifth inning of the Dodgers' 3-1 loss to the Cardinals on Friday at Dodger Stadium. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Someday it will happen. The poor soul will be lying there, eyes rolling in his head, looking silly and checking limbs to make sure they're still all attached.

Yasiel Puig has the dream body of an All-Pro fullback, backed by the speed of a Usain Bolt, coupled with the reckless abandon of an Evel Knievel.


When he gets that motor going, you'd best stay out of his way. The nightmare is poor Dee Gordon backing up on a pop-up, not seeing Puig charging in from right field. Smart Car vs. Mack Truck. They should send Gordon out there in a football helmet and shoulder pads.

How do the Dodgers not live in fear of Puig accidentally killing a teammate?

"I worry about that all the time," said Hyun-Jin Ryu.

He had reason to worry Friday night when he gave up a drive to St. Louis shortstop Jhonny Peralta in the fifth. As it turned out, the drive was almost perfectly placed between center fielder Scott Van Slyke and Puig in right.

Van Slyke charged from center, Puig from right. At the last moment Van Slyke saw Puig coming and started to pull up. No one, not even the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Van Slyke, wants to collide into the cannon-ball Puig running at full speed.

"No, would you?" Van Slyke asked me.

Well, if I was in right, would he have played the ball differently?

"Yeah, obviously if nobody's in the outfield," he said.

Hey, I can middle-age motor. It's so terrible when people hurt you with their words.

It's unlikely Van Slyke could have gotten to the drive even if he had continued on a full speed, having no fear of running into my finely chiseled frame. But his pulling up at the last moment was nothing if not another indication of his vast intelligence.

Still, nobody called for the ball that Ryu said he initially thought would be caught but instead fell in the gap as the winning runs scored.

"I'm going full speed to try and catch it and then I look up and see Puig," Van Slyke said. "It looks like we're equal distance to the ball. It's just one of those things, where it fell in there."

And no calls had to be made to the coroner.

"Obviously, neither he nor I could get to the ball, so we just did the best we could," Puig said through a translator.


Of course, the other danger is Puig trying to run through an outfield wall or flying into the stands trying to chase down a drive.

"He's a fearless guy," Ryu said. "He puts everything out there. As a pitcher and a teammate, when you see somebody trying that hard, you just commend them for it, you respect them for it.

"But if anything, I'm just concerned for his safety and his health, and I just hope he doesn't get hurt out there."