Some of the liveliest competition in the early part of spring training for the Los Angeles Dodgers has taken place at the clubhouse ping pong table, which rarely goes unused. The sport is not commonly played in Yasiel Puig's native Cuba. But when countryman Alexander Guerrero challenges him to a game, the excitable outfielder delays his lunch plans, lays down his cell phone and takes on the rookie. Amid their banter and the occasional argument about the score – "This guy doesn't know how to count," Puig blares – he screams with delight over good shots and twice does a twirl while awaiting Guerrero's returns. On his way out the clubhouse after claiming victory, Puig slaps infielder Dee Gordon's hand and exclaims in English, "Dee, what's up baby?" A kid in a candy store would not be happier. That's the Puig teammates often see, a chattering bundle of energy whose effervescence carries beyond the ballpark and onto the team bus, the plane, the hotel or wherever the Dodgers go. Then there's the other side of Puig, the volatile, impetuous player who raised the ire of opposing teams and fans with his exuberant antics while alienating the news media with his curt refusals to cooperate. "He is easily the most polarizing player I've ever played with," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "The reaction Dodger fans give him, they're the loudest ovations by far of anybody on the team. He goes out to right field and the bleachers are just going berserk, especially after he's done something amazing. "And then we go on the road and the boo-birds are out, coming down on him." As Puig enters his second season in the majors, the Dodgers are doing everything possible to reshape the image and public demeanor of their most marketable commodity.
In year 2, Dodgers' Yasiel Puig aims to refine image
USA Today | Feb 18