The Los Angeles Dodgers have found themselves with quite a few early season problems. Hanley Ramirez started out the season on the Disabled List and has yet to make an appearance in a Dodger uniform in 2013. Zack Greinke, signed with the hopes of creating a 1-2 monster atop the rotation with Clayton Kershaw, broke a collarbone in his second start of the season in San Diego and was lost for two months. Chad Billingsley’s done for the year with an elbow injury requiring Tommy John surgery. His replacements in the rotation, Chris Capuano and Stephen Fife have both wound up on the 15 day DL with various maladies. And Mark Ellis recently joined the wounded with a quadriceps injury that currently has him day-to-day.
The Dodgers can now add hot outfield prospect Yasiel Puig to their list of early season worries. After a hot spring in which he hit .517 with three home runs and 11 RBIs and an early string of success at Double A Chatanooga, the Chatanooga Lookouts outfielder got arrested early Sunday morning.
Puig, signed last year by the Dodgers as a Cuban defector to a seven year, $42 million contract, had started out very well with the Lookouts, compiling a .333 batting average with 3 doubles, a triple, and three home runs to go along with nine RBIs and two stolen bases in 13 games so far this season. Puig is currently on the 7 day disabled list with a sprained thumb on his left hand. There had been some discussion of bringing Puig up to serve as an extra outfield bat or designated hitter during interleague play in American League parks, but the Dodgers opted to go with Tim Federowicz as a third catcher and extra bat off the bench during their first interleague series in Baltimore.
Puig’s offenses on the Hamilton County Sheriffs Department arrest report (http://www.hcsheriff.gov/cor/display.php?day=0) are listed as “Financial Responsibility” “Speeding” and “Reckless Driving.” Research indicates that the “Financial Responsibility” charge was picked up due to Puig not having proof of insurance on his person at the time of his arrest. Puig is listed in the arrest report as “Yasiel Puig-Valdes.”
According to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Puig was booked and released, not held, and there is no record indicating that any bail was required or posted. Puig has a court date scheduled on the matter for May 14th.
This is not the first indication that Puig may have some growing up to do. Despite his hot spring training, Dodger officials said part of the reason why Puig did not make the Opening Day roster was because he had to “mature.” Puig was also pulled from a Lookouts game earlier this season due to an unspecified “mental error.”
Dodger management has indicated that they will look into the matter and may make a decision internally in regards to issuing sanctions against Puig, but it has not yet been indicated as to what those sanctions might be. General Manager Ned Colletti was quoted on the Dodgers website at dodgers.com as saying “We’re aware of it … we take it seriously. We’ll be handling discipline internally.” The Dodger website provided very little about the arrest and posted a clip of Puig recording 3 hits against the Chicago White Sox in a Spring Training game at the top of the page.
Regardless of Yasiel Puig’s talent, it appears that Dodger management may have been onto something when citing part of their rationale in keeping Puig from coming up for Opening Day as being his maturity. Dodger fans and the organization are excited about the talent Puig brings to the ball club, but at least for now, it appears the organization was correct in its assessment of Puig’s maturity. Hopefully the organization and the young phenom will find a way to help get him focused on baseball and work on making better decisions both on and off the field.