In tonight’s twin over the Cleveland Indians, Yasiel Puig hit a comebacker to Jake Odorrizi in the fourth inning and immediately turned and went back to the dugout. Puig had no chance of reaching first safely on the play and Odorrizi ran the ball to first himself while looking back at Puig with a somewhat surprised expression on his face. The Target Field crowd immediately booed Puig and Dick Bremer speculated that Cleveland manager Terry Francona would pull Puig from the game.
Upon entering the visitor’s dugout veteran Carlos Santana pulled Puig aside and began talking with him and stayed seated beside Puig for the remainder of the inning. Francona stepped down from the top of the dugout and said something to Puig while rubbing his head in what appeared to be an affectionate manner. Puig ran out to right field at the bottom of the fourth and was not pulled from the game.
Francona is known as one of the most beloved player’s managers in the game and he probably knew how to best deal with an outgoing (to put it nicely) personality like Puig’s. Puig most likely immediately understood what he did wrong and his lack of hustle seemed to be an immediate reaction due to his frustration at grounding out to the pitcher. While Francona may still choose to further address the issue with Puig, his decision to keep Puig in the game certainly paid off for Cleveland. Although Cleveland ultimately went on to lose the game, Puig hit an RBI double to tie the game in the sixth inning and doubled again in his next at bat, later coming around to score. It seems likely that an emotional player like Puig was motivated to amend his mistake and may have also been fueled by all the boos he received from the Target Field crowd.
It is a bit interesting to me as to why the Minnesota crowd would be so upset with Puig not hustling on what was a sure out. I guess it’s good to “play the game the right way” and Puig certainly didn’t endear himself to Twins fans in the last home series, but if anything Puig’s choice not to hustle only helped Minnesota by ensuring that a throw didn’t need to be made on the play. It also brought about the possibility of friction between Puig and his teammates which would also be beneficial to the Twins. Additionally, does the absence of seeing Puig slowly trot down the first base line only to thrown out by a mile really take much away from the aesthetic of the game?
From my point of view, I can see why a Cleveland fan (or teammate) could be upset with the play. This series with Minnesota is absolutely crucial for Cleveland as they had fallen behind the Twins by six in-a-half games before the series and won the first game. Miguel Sano had a similar play in the next inning where the ground ball he hit skipped on Cleveland pitcher Aaron Civale and Sano was able to beat out the throw after hustling out of the box. But again, Puig could immediately see that Odorizzi handled the ground ball and that he had no chance to reach safely. Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario also failed to run to first after a dropped third strike and he had no worse a chance than Puig of reaching first on the play (he didn’t receive any booing).
Finally, if you really want to look at the play as objectively as possible, Puig may have also been keeping himself out of the way of potential injury on the play. Although the odds of getting injured on the play were probably microscopic, so were his chances of reaching without recording an out. Plus, Puig did come up limping after scoring in the top of the eighth inning, so it’s not as if he is immune to injury on the base paths.
What do you think? Are you enraged by Puig’s antics or was his not hustling pretty inconsequential? Should the home crowd have booed Puig or thanked him for making the out all the easier for the Twins? Leave your comments below.