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Taking Dodgers' Yasiel Puig to (conditioning) class

Taking Dodgers' Yasiel Puig to (conditioning) class
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig watches the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center on Tuesday. Last season, Puig twice went on the disabled list with strained hamstrings, appearing in only 79 games. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

And here I thought Cuba had this great educational system.

Apparently they left out a few things, or Yasiel Puig skipped a couple of classes. How else do you explain his failure to understand basic human anatomy? How else do you explain this comment from Puig on Tuesday?

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"I don't see the correlation between weight and how well one plays baseball, or how that affects one or the other."

Understand, Puig said even if he cannot connect the dots between physically looking more like a sprinter than a sumo wrestler, he is trying to accommodate Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman's request that he trim the physique.

Last season, Puig twice went on the disabled list with strained hamstrings, appearing in only 79 games. He put up a slash line of .255/.332/.436 -- all career-lows. After his rookie season in 2013, he showed up to camp the next year with an additional some 25 pounds. The Dodgers listed him at 255, after having him at 235 as a rookie. The Dodgers shrugged.

It would seem a natural suspicion that his decline as a player just might have something to do with his additional poundage. That's not to say he's gone all Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on us; he certainly has not. But sculptured lines have given way to soft edges. He just turned 25.

This is a player who relies on speed and quickness as much as raw power. He's not supposed to be Jonathan Broxton on the mound but Andrew McCutchen on the field. He's a five-tool player who's not supposed to be slowed down by the extra pounds, or putting the additional load on his legs.

Most players spend the off-season getting themselves in the best shape possible, honing their bodies for maximum performance for the long season ahead. Kinesiology 101: Quicker and stronger is better than slower and fatter.

Plus, getting yourself in prime condition speaks to desire and dedication, elements Puig has been questioned about in the past. So why encourage the mere thought? Get in top shape and put yourself in the best position to succeed. That's Commitment 101.

Puig said he has heard Friedman and others, and whether on the program for exactly the right reasons or not, he's on board with losing weight.

"Everyone else has encouraged me to do the same," he said. "But really, I don't see much correlation."

Yeah, there's that again. If he wants to be Prince Fielder, he'd better learn to play first and discover a whole lot more power. If he wants to be everybody's favorite Wild Horse, he'd best pay attention in the school of physical conditioning.

Twitter: @stevedilbeck

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