Magic Johnson on Yasiel Puig: ‘He has to make the right decisions’

Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig was benched by Manager Don Mattingly for Friday's home opener against the San Francisco Giants.
(Kelvin Kuo / Associated Press)

Dodgers owner Magic Johnson said he supported Manager Don Mattingly’s decision to bench Yasiel Puig after the outfielder showed up late for Friday’s home opener. Johnson also said he understood the occasional slip from the 23-year-old Puig and said the issues surrounding him should not harm the team.

“The team is strong,” Johnson said. “We’ve got great leadership with [Clayton] Kershaw, Adrian [Gonzalez], now that Matt is back. … We have to remember: He is still young. These things are going to happen.

“We don’t want him late for games or anything like that. I’m glad Don is doing what he’s doing. He’ll realize that this is a golden opportunity for him. He has to make the right decisions.”

Johnson said he has spoken with Puig about life on and off the field.


“We’re hoping that he’ll get better making the right decisions with his life,” Johnson said. “He has to remember that those decisions also can affect what you do on the baseball field.”

Johnson laughed at the thought that Puig’s tardiness or Kemp’s unhappiness with his omission from the original starting lineup -- Kemp later replaced Puig -- put the Dodgers’ drama on a level anywhere near what Johnson experienced as a player with the Lakers.

“If this is all we’ve got to go through,” Johnson said, “we are OK.”