Nationals

Dodgers narrowly avoid tragedy with newly matured Puig (video)

During the fifth inning of Thursday’s game Los Angeles Dodgers star right fielder Yasiel Puig and second baseman Howie Kendrick were both chasing down a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Angeles’ right fielder Mike Trout when they collided.

It appeared that Kendrick’s left elbow struck Puig directly in the throat, leaving Puig lying on the ground for quite some time until the trainers came out onto the field. Here take a look at the collision:

The ball dropped for a triple for Trout, but first baseman Adrian Gonzalez fielded the ball, getting it to homeplate in time to keep Trout from getting an inside the park home run.

Still the scare with Puig was real. He laid face down on the outfield grass long enough to make the crowd nervous and for the trainers to come out.

“It looked like Howie got him in the neck or the throat with his shoulder,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Howie didn’t hear anything until the last second. The infielder’s going to keep going until he hears something, and that’s basically what Howie did. That’s when it gets dangerous.”

Puig was checked out by the team’s trainers for several minutes and was eventually removed from the game. He got up and walked off the field without help. He was replaced by Chris Heisey.

Puig was examined by doctors who found that there was no major injury. The Dodgers said Puig would be available to play in Friday’s game of the Freeway Series.

He has been having an amazing spring, mainly having to do more with his reformed attitude than his .286 average, five home runs and 13 RBI. He showed up to camp early, seemingly much more mature than he’d been in the past.

Puig is very talented. In his first season with the Dodgers at age 22, Puig hit .319, hit 19 home runs and drove in 42 runs in just 103 games. In his second season in 2014, Puig hit ,296 with 16 home runs and 69 RBI in 148 games. He’s talented in the field and fearless as well, running full force in walls and always showing off a very strong arm.

Still, he’s had what one might call “behavioral issues” on and off the field. In 2013 Puig was arrested twice for reckless driving. He’s been the center of more than one on the field brawls.

He has been benched by Mattingly on, again, more than one occasion for being headstrong, refusing to listen to the Dodgers coaches and showing up late for games and workouts.

However, now at age 24, Puig seems to have matured a bit and has decided to change his attitude. He arrived at spring training early with a team first attitude. It wasn’t so much the “Yasiel Puig Show” anymore.

He’s been working on his fundamentals, not showing off and practicing hard with his teammates.

“That’s what I’m doing now, just being more disciplined, getting here on time, getting work done and working hard,” Puig said. “That’s what I’ve been doing to try to get better.”

So, truly the Dodgers narrowly did avoid tragedy on Thursday. They have a newly matured star player in Puig who appears to have turned over a new leaf, leaving behind his former selfish and childish behaviors for a team oriented mentality.

Puig is looking to hone his already stellar skills and change the negative way so many people have looked at the 2014 All-Star these past two seasons. Whether or not these changes will last, only time will tell.

However, it would have been a tragedy if he’d been seriously injured in Thursday night’s collision with Kendrick because then the Dodgers and the world wouldn’t have gotten the chance to be able to wait to see if the changes made by Puig are going to last.

Something tells me he’s serious this time about being a better player, teammate and person, so it’s a really good thing for the Dodgers that he came out of this scary play ok.

Puig did not talk to reporters after the game, which I wouldn’t read much into. He just told them, “I’m fine.” That’s what the doctors said too.

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