GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Yasiel Puig is surprised by his success in spring training. The Los Angeles Dodgers are impressed.
Puig continued to create a buzz this spring with a two-run homer and two singles in three at-bats Friday night, leading the Dodgers to an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals in a split-squad game for both teams.
“I thought I would do well, but I didn’t think I would do quite as well as this,” Puig, a Cuban defector, said through Dodgers pitcher Eddie Oropesa, a fellow Cuban who interpreted his Spanish.
Puig is batting .459 this spring, and the sound of the ball coming off his bat echoed throughout Camelback Ranch in the first inning with his second homer, a line shot over right-center field off a fastball from Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura.
“A fast ball that was too high, especially for him, a very big boy,” Ventura said.
In the second inning, Puig singled to right, stole second and scored on Juan Uribe’s double. In the fifth, he singled to center and scored on Alfredo Amezaga’s single.
The Dodgers’ investment in the 22-year-old outfielder is starting look like a very good one. They signed him last June 29 to a seven-year contract worth $47 million.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anybody do something like this,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who compares the powerfully-built Puig to Bo Jackson. “I’ve seen guys have good springs, but not with that kind of energy.”
Earlier in the week, Mattingly was asking for patience. He said he didn’t think Puig was ready for the major leagues.
“Not really, in my mind,” Mattingly said Thursday. “If we’re going to be realistic about it, it’s probably not best for him.”
It looks as if Puig is headed to Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque, at least for a while. But there is a scenario that might make the Dodgers consider him for spot on the opening-day roster. Left-fielder Carl Crawford is working his way back from a nerve irritation in his surgically-repaired left elbow. He has yet to appear in a spring game.
If Crawford isn’t ready on April 1 against San Francisco at Dodger Stadium, what about Puig?
“He hits well, but we see a lot of things,” said Mattingly, who says watching Puig run the bases is like watching a wild horse. “I don’t know. We’ll see in the summer. He’ll tell us. If he’s ready, he’ll dominate down there.”
Dodgers starter Stephen Fife threw four scoreless innings before giving up a run in the fifth on Alex Gordon’s double. Fife also had an RBI double in the fourth.
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