Yasiel Puig takes blame for posting videos; homers in first game at Oklahoma City

ByDoug Padilla ESPN logo
Saturday, August 13, 2016

LOS ANGELES - On Thursday night it was Pokemon hunting with his new teammates. On Friday night, Yasiel Puig delivered three hits, including a home run and four RBIs for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Stressing that he needs to be a better teammate, Puig is doing what he can in that department. The extra-curricular activities are nice, but ultimately it is all about on-field production that will matter for the recently demoted Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder.

"I think I have to be out there more, I have to get involved with my teammates, I have to talk to them and I have to be nice and be out there with them," Puig told reporters through an interpreter during his introductory press conference at Oklahoma City on Friday.

The Dodgers sent Puig to the minor leagues on Aug. 2, a day after outfielder Josh Reddick was acquired from the Oakland Athletics. His dwindling offensive production was a major reason the move was made, but his off-field behavior also was cited.

Puig joined his new team Sunday and while there has been plenty of bonding time, it actually has gone a little too far. The attention-getting outfielder already made news this week when posting videos, via the social-media app Snapchat, of the team's after-hours adventures in Des Moines, Iowa, adventures that included vulgar language and obscene gestures.

"I really didn't know how to use Snapchat," Puig said. "I was just playing around with my teammates. I just did something that was wrong."

Missteps aside, Puig is delivering on the field again during his first stint at Triple-A. He played at the Rookie League, Single-A and Double-A levels before he was called up to the Dodgers in 2013, where he exploded upon the scene and helped carry the club into the playoffs.

But his production has declined ever since becoming an all-star in 2014, and his behavior often befuddled coaches, teammates and the front office.

Puig was batting .260 with a .320 on-base percentage and .386 slugging percentage in 81 games this season before he was sent down.

"When the club told me I was coming to OKC, I took that as their option," Puig said. "That's what they told me. I'm here and I'm trying to be a better person. There's a reason why I'm here. I'm trying to be a better teammate and a better person."

If there was a theme to Puig's introductory press conference Friday it was that he was contrite and willing to do things on others' terms, instead of his own.

"I'm here because I was not doing the right things over there," he said. "I'm here to improve myself; I'm here to become a better athlete again. That's their position. Right now I'm going to focus on being better at the plate, being a better athlete and a better teammate."

The Dodgers have heard all this before, though. There still is no guarantee Puig will be back in Los Angeles even if he continues to hit at Oklahoma City, where the regular season schedule only runs to the first week of September. But in four games at OKC, he has built a .438 batting average (7-for-16), with two home runs and six RBIs.

The Dodgers can expand their September active roster to include all players from their 40-man roster. But will Puig be in that group of reinforcements?

"My motivation to go back to the major leagues is be here early, be a better teammate and I have to be better as a person," he said. "I know I'm not a perfect guy, but I want to be a better teammate. That's what I'm here for."

Puig says he has support from players in the Dodgers' clubhouse.

"My friends back in L.A., they text me and tell me this can happen to anyone," Puig said. "The best thing you can do right now is focus and do what you need to do and then be a better teammate and also support your team."

So he went out in Oklahoma City with teammates again Monday. And while he was active on his smart phone, there were no Snapchat videos this time.

"Last night we went Pokemon hunting," he said.

All in an effort to be a better teammate.