Yasiel Puig’s head-first slide causes concern for Dodgers

Yasiel Puig
Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig breaks from the batter’s box after getting a hit against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Yasiel Puig plays with reckless abandon. It’s wild, it’s powerful and it’s exciting.

But it can also be dangerous.

After hitting a chopper back over the pitcher’s mound in the eighth inning Saturday night, the Dodgers rookie right fielder dove head-first into first base for an infield single. He appeared to jam his right hand on the bag and stretched his fingers as he was getting up.

The layout was probably unnecessary, but it was concerning for Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. He’s got enough injured players already.


“We’ll talk to him about not going in head-first over there,” Mattingly said.

Puig said he felt fine after the game Sunday and Mattingly confirmed there’s no issue. Still, the dive highlighted an all-around dangerous last two innings, which included starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pinch-running for Hanley Ramirez in the ninth. Mattingly said he understands that Puig gets caught up in the natural emotion of the game and that watching players snap into that mode can be exciting.

But that excitement comes with risk — take Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, who ran into the wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13 chasing a fly ball and was finally placed on the DL as a result on June 1.

“We love Pete Rose’s head-first slides into first, right? But we know they’re dangerous,” Mattingly said.


Mattingly also said running through the first-base bag has been proven to be a faster option than the dive, but that hasn’t stopped players like Puig and Nick Punto, who was fined for repeatedly attempting that risk with the Twins, Mattingly said.

Some players are just less likely to back away from it, but Skip Schumaker said Puig would be wise to avoid similar risks in the future.

“Hopefully he doesn’t head-first slide anymore to first,” Schumaker said. “That’s so dangerous, we all kind of held our breath. He’s exciting, there’s no doubt about what kind of talent he has. I just want him to be healthy.”

Twitter: @Stephen_Bailey1

Get our weekly Dodgers Dugout newsletter