SAN DIEGO -- For what it’s worth, Yasiel Puig said he is listening.
To his teammates. To his coaches. Even players on other teams.
Over the last week, the Dodgers’ problem child made it a point to speak with Albert Pujols of the Angels during the Freeway Series. He also solicited advice from Robinson Cano, who was with the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim.
Puig talked to them about his difficulties at the plate in spring training. What they told him was similar to what he was told by Dodgers coaches Mark McGwire and Manny Mota when he batted .122 in the Cactus League.
“They said if I keep working hard, I’ll see the results on the field,” Puig said in Spanish.
He’s now starting to see them.
Puig was two for 10 with a home run in the Dodgers’ three games at Petco Park against the San Diego Padres. He was 0 for 3 in the series finale Wednesday, scoring from first base on a first-inning double by Hanley Ramirez.
Puig isn’t ready to declare his slump over, but he’s close.
“Little by little,” Puig said, “I’m getting out of it.”
The expectation around baseball is that Puig will regress from his rookie season last year, when he batted .319 with 19 home runs and 42 runs batted in in 104 games. The widely held belief is that pitchers have adjusted to Puig. But Puig is doing what he can to counter back.
“I’m preparing very well in practice, in batting practice, everything I’m doing with the coaches,” he said. “I’m learning more about the pitchers, the pitches they throw, how to not let them beat me with pitches out of the zone, wait for the pitches I can hit and to trust my hands.”
The pitch Puig hit for a home run Tuesday was a fastball up and in from Ian Kennedy, the very kind of pitch that was said to trouble him.
“It was all the result of the work we’ve been doing,” Puig said.
Puig said he is listening more closely to the team’s trainers on how to treat minor aches and pains.
Last week, in the wake of public criticism he received from Manager Don Mattingly, Puig said he asked a clubhouse full of teammates how he could better himself, both as a player and person.
“They shared some of the experiences they had when they were my age,” Puig said. “That’s helped me a lot.”