Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig won’t be punished for his role in Miami bar fight
Yasiel Puig will not be disciplined by Major League Baseball after the league found no evidence that the Dodgers outfielder struck his sister during a Thanksgiving Eve bar fight in Miami.
A league investigation of the incident included interviews with Puig, his sister and employees from the bar and, as late as Tuesday, a review of video footage from inside the bar.
“I’m happy with the results of the investigation,” Puig said Wednesday through an interpreter.
Puig declined to explain his side of the story.
“I don’t have a side to the story,” he said.
The allegation that Puig hit his sister was made by the Internet celebrity gossip site TMZ.
In a statement, the league said that its investigation “did not uncover any witness who supported the assault allegation; both Puig and his sister denied that an assault occurred; and the available video evidence did not support the allegation. Thus, barring the receipt of any new information or evidence, no discipline will be imposed on Puig in connection with the alleged incident.”
The league limited its investigation to the allegation that Puig hit his sister, which would have fallen under the sport’s new domestic violence policy. Any punishment for an alleged related altercation between Puig and a bouncer at the bar would come from the Dodgers, not the league.
“The Dodgers are pleased with MLB’s findings following their thorough investigation,” the team said in a statement. “Yasiel can now put this matter behind him and focus solely on the season ahead.”
Puig denied that the lengthy investigation had weighed upon him as the Dodgers prepared for the coming season.
“I just came here to work hard,” he said. “I’m happy with my lawyers and the league’s lawyers. It was out of my hands. I’m just happy this is resolved.”
On Wednesday, as the league announced its decision, Puig hit his first home run this spring. He joked that teammate Alex Guerrero had urged him to hit a home run to avoid running out a ground ball and injuring his hamstring.
“Just because I hit a home run today,” he said, “doesn’t mean I wasn’t able to concentrate.”
In the absence of a resolution, Manager Dave Roberts said the matter lingered.
“Now we can move forward,” Roberts said. “He can move forward.”
Baseball’s domestic violence policy, adopted last August, authorizes Commissioner Rob Manfred to impose a suspension and/or other discipline even if a player is not charged with a crime. No charges were filed against Puig.
New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman became the first player punished under the new policy, when he accepted a 30-game suspension and agreed not to appeal. The league has put Colorado Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes on paid leave pending a resolution of a court case in which he is charged with abusing his wife.
TMZ reported that Puig pushed his sister in the bar, triggering a brawl that resulted in Puig and the bouncer coming to blows. A Miami Police Department spokesman told The Times: “To the best of our knowledge, the only physical altercation was between the bouncer and Puig.”
Puig suffered a swollen left eye and the bouncer a “busted lip,” according to the spokesman.
TMZ also retracted its video report purporting to show Puig fighting outside the bar.
For Puig, the bar incident capped a turbulent year in which he was limited to 79 games because of hamstring injuries and did not start in four of the five games of the National League division series.
He frustrated teammates and coaches to the point that ace Clayton Kershaw reportedly asked management to trade Puig — a claim Kershaw has neither confirmed nor denied — and then-manager Don Mattingly branded Puig’s just-in-time-for-the-playoffs recovery as “miraculous.”
Mattingly now manages the Miami Marlins, and Roberts said he has offered Puig “a fresh start.” The Dodgers generally have applauded Puig’s efforts since training camp opened last month.
“I’ve been really impressed with him this spring,” Kershaw said. “He’s putting in a lot of work.”
Puig, 25, finished in the top 20 of National League most-valuable-player voting in 2013 and 2014, his first two years in the major leagues. He batted .255 with 11 home runs last year, but the Dodgers are hopeful of developing a sustainable offensive core around their three 25-and-under starters: Puig, shortstop Corey Seager and center fielder Joc Pederson.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin.
Times staff writer Andy McCullough contributed to this report.
MORE ON DODGERS
Are you a true-blue fan?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.