Shortly after reporting to spring training, Yasiel Puig said he wanted to be the Kobe Bryant or LeBron James of baseball. For the first two-plus weeks of camp, Puig’s effort has reflected his ambition.
“He’s backing that up with his work,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s been great in camp.”
Puig belted his first home run of the exhibition season Monday, sending a fourth-inning pitch from Ryan Vogelsong over the left-field wall at Scottsdale Stadium in the Dodgers’ 5-5 tie with the San Francisco Giants.
“I’m picking up rhythm little by little,” Puig said in Spanish. “I’m pleased with the work I’m doing. I’m getting here early every day. I’m training hard every day.”
He said he is working on his selectivity at the plate, as well as maintaining his focus when he is in right field.
“Before, when the pitcher was pitching, I just stood in the outfield and reacted to the ball after it was hit,” Puig said. “Now, I’m trying to be better prepared on every pitch.”
That might have saved the Dodgers a run in the second inning, when Puig cut off a ball in the right-center-field gap to limit Matt Duffy to a single.
“It’s not one that’s going to get on SportsCenter, but that’s a great play,” Mattingly said.
Puig also appeared to throw out Duffy at the plate in the fifth inning, but umpire Ted Barrett ruled Duffy safe.
Back to normal
Brett Anderson’s first game for the Dodgers on Monday was also the left-hander’s first game after an off-season back operation.
Anderson was pleased that he felt nothing abnormal in his two scoreless innings.
“Hopefully, I can just worry about my routine and what happens every five days, be in playing mode rather than rehab mode,” Anderson said.
Anderson, who is expected to be the Dodgers’ fifth starter, has pitched fewer than 100 innings in each of his last four seasons.
Five of the six outs Anderson recorded against the Giants were on groundouts, with at least one going to each of the four starting infielders — first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, second baseman Howie Kendrick, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and third baseman Juan Uribe.
“I think it’s going to be a plus-plus defense,” Anderson said.