Yasiel Puig says he was forced to stop having fun, doesn’t feel like same player
When Yasiel Puig first came into the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he looked like one of baseball’s next superstars. Four years later, the outfielder is hitting just barely over .240 after an underwhelming 2016 season.
You can blame baseball’s unwritten rules for that.
As part of an ESPN feature highlighting the difficulties Latin American players have adjusting to life playing baseball in the United States, Puig offered his thoughts on how ballpark culture is different in his home country of Cuba vs. the U.S. He gave a powerful assessment.
“We are not understood. We have to adapt,” Puig said. “There are things we are not used to doing in our countries. When you keep doing things wrong, people get tired; I even got tired myself. There should not be so many rules. You just have to do your job and let people have fun, which is what I was doing in 2013. They’ve wanted to change so many things about me that I feel so off. I don’t feel like the player I was in 2013.”
50 players were interviewed for the piece, and the insight shared by all of them was quite fascinating. Puig’s response was particularly noteworthy, as it directly addressed his well-documented struggles on the field over the past several seasons.
Puig has always been an eccentric guy, and we saw some of that come out recently when he made an inappropriate gesture toward some fans. If you read the remarks from some of his fellow Latin American players, you’ll understand how culture shock may have played a big role in Puig’s inability to emerge as the superstar Dodgers fans thought he was going to be.