While some teammates in the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield are out nursing injuries, Yasiel Puig has become busy trying to earn his starting job back.
The Cuban right-fielder, and at one time a phenom, was demoted last August to Triple-A.
On Wednesday, Puig played five innings and saw three at-bats as the Dodgers lost 7-2 to Milwaukee in a split squad game.
At one-time an All-Star, Puig’s numbers have dropped considerably and his actions both on the field and off it have annoyed teammates and eventually led to being demoted.
In 2013, Puig became a household name with the Dodgers. At 22, he took the right field job in early June and proceeded to hit .319 with 19 homers in just 104 games.
He became a terror for opponents on the base paths with size and speed and on defense he added eight assists from the outfield.
In 2014, he was named to the All-Star team and it appeared Los Angeles would have a right fielder for years.
Then his numbers started to drop off, more incidents upset his teammates and injuries between 2015 and 2016, and when August of 2016 rolled around the Dodgers could not take anymore and demoted him.
When Josh Reddick was acquired before the trade deadline, the Dodgers sent Puig to the minors. Reddick is a Houston Astro now, so Puig once again has the opportunity to become an everyday player.
He is seeing more time as well before the return of Andrew Toles, Trayce Thompson and Andre Ethier.
Puig said prior to the start of spring training it was his own fault and now is re-focused for this year.
Last season he survived speculation over a possible trade and is attempting to take advantage of the playing time he has this spring. He has started seven times in right field thus far and has played the most innings.
He may in the end be platooned with another player like Ethier, Toles or even Franklin Gutierrez. However, Dave Roberts the manager is positive about what Puig has shown him thus far.
On Wednesday, Puig had to popup outs but in his third at bat hit the ball very hard. Thus far he has 4 hits in 19 at bats during spring training.
Roberts said that the more consistent Puig’s at bats become, his talent will take over and it will work itself out.