Yasiel Puig is strong, fast and tough. He plays with the reckless abandon of a 22-year-old rookie, but the athletic abilities of a superhero.
When asked who Puig reminded him of after the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the Phillies Thursday, outfielder Matt Kemp veered away from the modest responses you so often hear from professional baseball players.
“He kind of reminds me of myself,” Kemp said. “He kind of plays too hard, sometimes you’ve got to tell him ‘calm down, you can’t make every play,’ but you can’t really change his game.”
Fifteen minutes after running into the right-field wall on a Chase Utley home run in the top of the seventh inning, Puig whacked an 0-2 slider back up the middle for a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom half of the frame. Through 23 games, he’s hitting .427 with seven home runs and 16 RBI. He’s got a hit in all but four games multiple hits in 13.
“We’re pretty much feeding off the kid, the kid,” Kemp emphasized. “… I think he beat up the wall more than the wall beat him up.”
Kemp hit .253 as a rookie in 2006. In 166 plate appearances, just fewer than twice Puig has this year, Kemp tallied seven home runs and 23 RBI.
Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly compared Puig to Bo Jackson. That might be a little more accurate. Either way, it’s clear Kemp’s pretty happy with the new company he returned to in the outfield.
"He’s done an amazing job coming up here and this being his first month in the big leagues," Kemp said. "He’s done a tremendous job. He’s gotten big hits and made great palys on defense."