The learning continues for Yasiel Puig, courtesy of Albert Pujols
It’s a learning process, right? You make mistakes, determine why it happened and figure out a new approach for the future.
Right, Yasiel Puig? I said, right?
Would love to tell you Puig was humbled and embarrassed by his nonchalance in the outfield Monday night, but that might be stretching things a tad.
He did recognize he made a mistake, however, so there is that.
The play did not affect the Dodgers’ 5-0 loss to the Angels at Dodger Stadium, but it did represent that other Puig, that dark side he has been doing a pretty good job of moving past this season.
But there’s still some prima donna in him and it came out in the seventh inning Monday with Albert Pujols on first and no outs, and he paid for it. Josh Hamilton sent a fly ball to medium center that Puig got under and then did one of his casual one-handed, way-to-the-side catches.
Which wasn’t even the problem. The problem was how indifferent he seemed after making the catch. Pujols -- not exactly known for his speed on the bases -- tagged and alertly broke for second.
By the time Puig recovered, realized what was happening and threw the ball in, it was too late. Pujols was standing on second. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Pujols had embarrassed Puig.
“I wasn’t prepared,” Puig said. “I was caught with the ball in my hand.”
And with his pants down. On the next play, Erick Aybar flew out to Puig. After he threw it in, Puig waved a finger at Pujols, all playful and everything.
“I’m having fun too,” Pujols said. “He can do whatever he wants. I’m already on second base.”
Mattingly was less concerned by the two’s interaction than in Puig recognizing his mistake.
“[Pujols] just taught him a little lesson,” Mattingly said. “Hopefully he learned his lesson tonight. Albert knows how to play, knows the situation, knows that ball is in play right away on a deep fly. He’s going to take a few hard steps. If Yasiel comes up throwing, [Pujols is] going to stop. But as soon as Yas kind of drops his head, at that point it’s a play.
“It’s a little lesson for him. We talk about these guys. They’re aggressive and know how to play. If you don’t pay attention, they will embarrass you. And basically [Pujols] kind of embarrassed him out there.”
It was more the kind of play Puig is used to pulling on others.
“I have to be prepared quickly on every play,” he said. “You don’t know who will run and leave with you with the ball in your hand. He did his job and reached the base.”
Puig was asked if he was bothered by the mistake, but something was lost in translation. He laughed hard. Puig apparently thought he was being asked if he was offended that Pujols would attempt the play.
“I’m not bothered,” he said. “He’s doing his job. I go and leave people with the ball in their hand too.”
And with that, he actually sprinted out of the clubhouse. Time, as they say, will tell.
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