If you think Yasiel Puig is arrogant now, just wait until he signs with Jay-Z.
The LA Dodgers phenom, who in little more than a month has become the biggest thing in baseball, spent Monday and Tuesday catching the ire of several Arizona Diamondbacks, who ripped him to the media. But by the time he took the field Wednesday, a Yahoo Sports report surfaced claiming that Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports management agency hopes to add the 22-year-old Cuban to its roster.
During a mid-June trip to New York, Puig was invited to a party at a club Jay-Z owns after a Dodgers teammate passed along the rapper’s contact information, one source said. Between the lifestyle and marketing plan offered by Roc Nation Sports, Puig left the meeting intrigued.
Needless to say, Jay-Z the sports agent has his fair share of detractors, perhaps most notably our own Jason Whitlock. And Scott Boras. But it’s hard to imagine anybody’s got it out for Jay-Z the way the D-backs do for Puig.
Puig, who played a supporting role in the infamous June 11 brawl between the two NL West rivals, didn’t receive the kindest of words from Ian Kennedy, the Diamondbacks pitcher on the mound during the brawl, Arizona catcher Miguel Montero, who had a run-in with Puig in Tuesday night’s game, and retired slugger Luis Gonzalez on the Dodgers’ recent trip to Phoenix.
Kennedy, who received the biggest ban from last month’s brawl (10 games), told FOX Sports Arizona on Tuesday, "(Puig) plays with a lot of arrogance."
Montero took it a few steps further.
"Does he have talent? Of course," Montero told FS Arizona on Wednesday. "It’d be really bad if he wasted it doing the stupid things he is doing now.
"If he’s my teammate, (I’m) probably trying to help him not be hated in the major leagues. That’s where he’s going right now, creating a bad reputation throughout the league."
During Tuesday’s game, Puig ran through a stop sign at third base and the throw easily beat him to the plate, so he tried to knock the ball out of Montero’s glove during the tag.
Montero said afterward he was upset with Puig’s stare-down reaction after the tag.
"You don’t need to look at me if you get out," Montero told FS Arizona. "That’s it. I’m not starting anything. He’s looking at me, like, I don’t know … He was out. That’s all I care. The damage was already done.
"I think it’s just the way the kid plays. Other guys are taking it the wrong way, maybe. Maybe not. It seems like sometimes he might get in trouble, not with the D-backs, but with somebody else."
The Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley said that Puig gave the cold shoulder to Gonzalez, the retired Arizona legend and 2001 World Series hero who has Cuban heritage, after Gonzalez approached Puig during the Dodgers’ batting practice on Tuesday.
"I wanted to say hi to Puig because my family is from Cuba," Gonzalez later told the Diamondbacks flagship radio station Arizona Sports 620.
"I didn’t expect him to know who I was, that’s why I introduced myself as Luis Gonzalez," the former major leaguer, who played for 19 years, said. "I just tried to shrug it off and walk away.
"To me it’s all about integrity and how you carry yourself around people, and I’ve felt like I’ve gone above and beyond to respect the game and respect people around the game."
Gonzalez was asked if Puig’s attitude could rub people the wrong way.
"I think it’s already starting," Gonzalez said. "When you play with him it’s great. But when you’re on the other team or a fan on the other side, and you have to see this act every night, it gets tiring after a while.
"In old-school baseball, that would have been taken care of already. But today with suspensions and fines and things like that, people have to be a little more cautious."
On Thursday afternoon, Puig found out he didn’t win the Final Five Vote to make the NL All-Star team for Tuesday’s game at Citi Field (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX). He lost to Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman. But the campaign video the Dodgers created is still pretty cool.
However, former Dodger and current D-backs skipper Kirk Gibson, sees it differently.
"The play (Puig) tried … I have no problem with that at all," Gibson told FS Arizona. "I think I tried that seven or eight times myself.
"He’s just playing. For people to say he doesn’t know any better, why would he know better? How much baseball has he played? He hasn’t been in the major leagues that long. He hasn’t been in the country that long. Give him a break. He’s not Mickey Mantle yet.
"He’s kicking everybody’s ass, so some people are jealous. They’re going to pop off on him. I’m just thinking about how am I going to get this guy out tonight. I’m not offended by any of that. I think the way he plays is awesome."
Gibson said he believed Puig attempted to smash into Montero, but that was fine by the skipper.
"He’s big. He’s fast. That’s one of his strengths," Gibson told FS Arizona. "If somebody is in his way, he should try to run him over, so the next guy who tries to think about holding onto the ball … I mean, that’s what I would do. The next guy is going to know that is going to happen. It’s legal."