“I asked them to please keep helping me, ” Puig told ESPN.com after the meeting. “Specifically with baserunning and hitting my cutoff man — I want them to help me with everything.”
Oliva, who is looking forward to meeting his young countryman this week, said Puig’s impertinence is understandable. Most Cuban defectors are in their mid-20s or older when they come to the U.S., and younger players spend time in the minor leagues, learning how the game is played.
Oliva played 337 games in the minors before becoming AL Rookie of the Year with the Twins in 1964. Puig played only 63 before being called up from Class AA last June and immediately helping the Dodgers win the NL West with a .319 average and 19 home runs.
“His start was perfect. He’s a winner. And the mature part, I don’t worry about that. He’s young, he’s learning,” Oliva said. “I don’t know what he’s done that’s so bad — late to the park? Driving too fast? He’s not a guy using drugs, he’s not getting into trouble. I don’t know if he needs to change very much.”
But even the Dodgers seem to be hoping that Puig will change, will mature. A commercial currently running on the team’s network, SportsNet LA, shows Puig from a distance, tearing down the baseline and then rounding first base, with legendary broadcaster Vin Scully narrating: “The wild horse, the stallion, running wild out there with magnificent talent …”
The commercial cuts to Scully, facing the camera and adding, “And I’m still waiting to see if they can ever break him in.”