Yasiel Puig Goes Off Like A Rocket (For sportsreported.com)

I caught this image of Puig at the plate from my view in the Reserve Level, June 4th, 2013, right before Puig hit a lead-off double in the Bottom of the First.
Yasiel Puig bats in his second game with the Los Angeles Dodgers, June 4th, 2013.

In his first week as a Major League Baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, all Yasiel Puig did was hit for the Home Run Cycle.

That’s right.  In addition to hitting .455 through his first 44 at-bats, making breath-taking throws from the outfield, and causing a stir in general, Yasiel Puig’s first four home runs were a three run shot, a two run blast, a grand slam and a solo rocket.  It only took him 5 games to do it..

Some hitters have had hot starts to their careers.  But have there been many who have done so in quite as spectacular fashion as Yasiel Puig?

Puig’s first career home run was a big one.  With the Dodgers trailing the San Diego Padres 5-2 in the fifth inning and the Padres having already started chased Dodgers starter Ted Lilly, Puig came up with two runners on.  It was just his second career game at the big league level.  Just the night before, he had generated a lot of excitement by making what many fans called “The Throw” the night before: a game-ending double play where Puig caught a fly ball a the warning track and fired back to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to put out Chris Denorfia.

As it turned out, the home run was just a taste of what was to come.  Puig got a fastball and absolutely crushed it.  There was a moment of disbelief around Dodger Stadium.  A collective “woah” as the ball came off the bat.

And then.  Pandemonium.  As if to prove a point, Puig then hit a two run blast that rocketed into the Right Field Pavilion.  The Dodgers’ offense, which had been mostly dormant all season, sparked a 9-7 win over the Padres featuring 5 RBIs from the young Cuban phenom, and just two games into Yasiel Puig’s career, a star was born.

Two nights later, Puig came up with the bases loaded in the Bottom of the 8th with the Dodges clinging to a 1-0 lead behind a strong pitching effort from Zack Greinke.  By now the fans were beginning to expect something spectacular from Puig and on the first pitch he delivered another rocket shot into the Right Field Pavilion.  The reaction around the ballpark was absolute pandemonium.  (In the video below, Puig’s at-bat comes around 3 minutes in if you want to skip ahead.  Grand Slam came on the first pitch.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vGnN__1eew

All Yasiel Puig has done since is continue to hit well over .400, hit another home run, and made a throw to third base from right field that was so well on-line and thrown so hard that even having witnessed it, it still envoked the words of Jack Buck during the 1988 World Series.  “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

The throw couldn’t have been any more accurate if it was made in a video game.

Puig is already drawing comparisons to all sorts of Major League greats.  Dodger fans are reminded of Raul Mondesi.  Manager Don Mattingly has compared Puig to Bo Jackson.  Other names that have come up are Vladimir Guerrero and Roberto Clemente.  Very high praise for the 22 year old Cuban defector, and so far he has been worth the price of admission.  Although he’s made a couple throwing errors, a couple questionable base running decisions, and nearly took care of the Dodgers’ outfield log jam today in Pittsburgh when he cut in front of Andre Ethier in right-center field to catch a ball in a near-collision, Dodgers fans will take the growing pains.

After all, only two weeks into his Major League career, Yasiel Puig already looks like a legend.  After a 25 year absence from the World Series, the fans in Los Angeles need something to believe in, and Yasiel Puig is creating new believers with every highlight reel he makes.

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