Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig said Saturday that the shoulder problem… (Keith Srakocic / Associated…)
PITTSBURGH — Speaking for the first time since he was in the middle of a violent brawl between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks last week, Yasiel Puig had little to say.
To the surprise of even of some of his teammates, Puig wasn't suspended when Major League Baseball issued penalties Friday to players and coaches for their roles in the melee.
But evidently, Puig didn't share his teammates' concerns. Asked whether he feared he could be suspended, Puig smirked and replied, "For what?"
Puig was reminded he punched Diamondbacks infielder Eric Hinske.
"I didn't see it," he said. "Maybe you saw it. I don't know."
Hinske received a five-game ban, as the league office appeared to believe he started the altercation with Puig. Asked whether Hinske punched or pushed him, Puig replied, "I'm not going to talk about that."
Puig also offered no opinions on whether the 10-game suspension received by Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy was fair. Kennedy struck Puig in the face and later hit Zack Greinke high on his shoulder.
However, Puig did clarify this: the shoulder problem that forced him to miss the final game of the Diamondbacks series didn't stem from the brawl.
"I've had a little bit of inflammation," he said, revealing the issue predated the fracas.
Puig has avoided reporters since the bench-clearing incident, issuing a pregame ban on interviews that has received the backing of the Dodgers. Even after games, he has rarely been seen in the clubhouse.
"I don't like to be interviewed when my team loses," he said.
The other prodigy
Gerrit Cole has pitched only one major league game but said he is certain he belongs here.
The 22-year-old from Orange County, who will be making his second start for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Dodgers on Sunday, points to two events in particular that prepared him for the big league stage.
One was the 2012 Futures game, a showcase for baseball's top prospects during All-Star weekend. The other was the College World Series, which he pitched in for UCLA.
"That's an electric feel," Cole said.
So, when Cole stepped on a major league mound for the first time Tuesday, he felt ready. Limiting the San Francisco Giants to two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, Cole was credited with the win in the Pirates' 8-2 victory. His trademark fastball touched 99 mph.
Cole was a first-round pick by the New York Yankees out of Orange Lutheran High, but delayed his entry into professional baseball to attend UCLA instead. After his junior season, Cole was a first-round pick again, this time No. 1 overall.
He credits UCLA Coach John Savage for helping him develop as a pitcher. Cole said that he and some of his college teammates continue to support one another. Right-hander Chase Brewer made his major league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks last week. Rob Rasmussen pitches for the Dodgers' triple-A affiliate. Trevor Bauer is a top prospect for the Cleveland Indians.
"We all keep in touch as much as we can," Cole said.