Puig reaching stardom, living up to expectations
JUN 04, 2013 11:40p ET
Not once, but twice.
This amazing debut of his isn’t going to last, but Puig is on a spectacular, electrifying ride — and he’s carrying the Los Angeles Dodgers with him.
One night after he won a game with his arm, the Cuban rookie outdid himself, hitting two home runs and driving in five to lift the Dodgers to a 9-7 win over the San Diego Padres.
“I’m just happy to help,” Puig said through a translator.
But that doesn’t quite cover it.
He is energizing a team that has been mostly lackadaisical this season, turning every at-bat into must-see baseball. He doubled up a baserunner on Monday night to secure a victory in his major league debut and followed it up by going 3 for 4.
In two games, Puig is hitting .625 with a 1.500 slugging average. His two homers are as many as Matt Kemp has hit this season and only two fewer than Andre Ethier.
“We haven’t seen him steal a couple of bases yet,” pitcher Matt Guerrier said. “I guess we get to see that next, right?”
Probably. But in the meantime, consider what Puig has done in his first 48 hours with the Dodgers:
• He’s the first player in franchise history to have a multi-home run game in his first two games.
• He’s the first Dodger since Spider Jorgensen in 1947 to drive in at least five runs within his first two games.
• He’s had three curtain calls in two nights.
Puig's first two games have come with his family — father, mother, sister — sitting in the stands. And with Dodgers fans completely enthralled.
“I’m really happy that I’m living my dream,” he said. “Thank you for the opportunity. I’m just happy to be here.”
It wasn’t all perfect. In the first inning, Puig had a chance to score from third base on a grounder to second by Adrian Gonzalez but hesitated and was stranded. In the fourth, he tried to throw out Kyle Blanks going from first to third on a single to right, but the ball skipped away from third baseman Juan Uribe for an error.
Mattingly said he believed the throw should have been cut off by shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but he conceded there’s going to be a learning curve at the big league level, which means living with an occasional misstep.
“You see a little bit of the kid in the first inning, where he’s stuck at third,” Mattingly said. “You just deal with it. ... There’s going to be some growing pains now and then, but obviously the other side looks really, really good.”
It does. In fact, it looks better than good. Puig is figuring things out, but there is no doubt he has the speed and power to make sure he never returns to the minors. How the Dodgers make room for him is a drama that still has to play out.
But for now, everyone is enjoying the ride. Especially Puig.
He stood in the middle of the clubhouse late Tuesday night, speaking through a translator and even answering a question or two in English with a one-word response.
When it appeared he had answered everything, he looked at the reporters surrounding him and said, “Any more questions?”
There will more in the coming weeks.
But for now, everyone seems more than satisfied.