Outfielder Yasiel Puig continues to impress. Through Friday, he is batting… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
PHOENIX -- A day after Don Mattingly said Yasiel Puig would start the season in the minor leagues, the manager was awed by the 22-year-old Cuban outfielder’s performance in the Dodgers’ 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anybody do something like this,” Mattingly said. “You don’t see this kind of package. This is a Bo Jackson-type package you just don’t see.”
Earlier in the week, Matt Kemp also compared Puig to Jackson.
Puig was three for three with a home run, two runs batted in, two runs scored and a stolen base. He is batting .459 this spring.
“I haven’t seen anybody really ... ” Mattingly started, before catching himself. “I’m not even going to say it.”
Puig’s two-run home run in the first inning was a line-drive missile to right-center field.
“It was just pure,” Mattingly said.
Puig’s third-inning single reached right field so quickly that it nearly resulted in him being thrown out at first base.
Puig almost decapitated Royals pitcher Everett Teaford with his single to center in the fifth inning. Later that inning, Puig stole second base and reached third on a bloop single by Alfredo Amezaga that fell between three players in left field. When the players were slow to pick up the ball, Puig dashed home and scored.
Described as immature when he played in the minor leagues last year, Puig has come across as soft-spoken and humble this spring.
“I knew I would give my best, but I didn’t think I would play as well as I’ve played,” Puig said.
Regardless of what he does this spring, Puig is expected to start the season in double-A Chattanooga or triple-A Albuquerque. With Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier in the fold, the Dodgers’ outfield is set.
There are also indications Puig might need some polishing. He struck out twice on Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds’ Mat Latos, who made him chase breaking balls out of the strike zone.
“I don’t worry about that,” Puig said. “Whatever they do, wherever they want to send me, I’ll give my best.”
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