MIAMI — The Yasiel Puig Tour hit Miami on Monday night, prompting two rare occurrences.
Puig held just his third press conference since joining the Dodgers on June 3. The others happened when he first arrived in Los Angeles and then on the team’s visit to New York to play the Yankees on June 18.
Minutes after his media session concluded Monday, Puig was seen speaking with fellow Cuban Jose Fernandez — that night’s starting pitcher against the Dodgers. Pitchers usually don’t speak to many people before a start, especially the opposition.
It’s not a stretch to say Puig enjoyed his brief talk with Fernandez more than answering questions.
About 10 minutes before his press conference began, Puig was heard in the Dodgers clubhouse suggesting reporters commit a vile act. A Dodgers spokesperson said the response was in reference to the right fielder being told his Sunday night exploits had been shared on TMZ.com and were not directed at the media in the room.
Puig and teammates Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford reportedly joined LeBron James at Miami’s LIV Nightclub about 1 a.m. Monday morning.
“I wish you guys would focus on things going on on the field. You’re always looking for other stuff,” Puig said through an interpreter when asked his thoughts on dealing with the media.
Puig entered Monday night’s game hitting .358 with 11 homers and 27 RBI in 66 games.
In facing Fernandez, Puig was going against another National League Rookie of the Year candidate.
“All the Cuban players are giving it their best,” Puig said. “When the season is done, may the best player win the award. I’m happy for everything happening to (Fernandez), being Cuban as well.”
Puig certainly has been a major factor in the Dodgers turning around their season. L.A. arrived in Miami having won 42 of its previous 51 games.
“I can’t explain it,” Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez said. “After Puig got here, we had a different kind of energy.”
Puig said he was happy to be in Miami, a city heavily populated by native and second-generation Cubans, and credited his teammates with helping him adjust to life in the U.S. and the big leagues.
“I had a Cuban feast in my house last night, but I came here to play baseball,” Puig said. “I’m very happy to be here in front of the Cuban community — hopefully they can fill the stadium tonight.
“I’m adapting little by little thanks my teammates and the Dodgers organization who are helping me to adjust. I’m happy the fans are supporting me as well.”