Few rookies have received as much attention — good and bad — as the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. On Tuesday, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy joined the conversation, and now, it’s teammate Miguel Montero entering the fray.
Montero’s discontent started with a play on Tuesday that saw Puig round third and run through a stop signal from the third base coach. The rookie was easily thrown out in a mild collision at home and took a nice long stare at Montero as he walked back to the dugout. Montero responded with a wag of the finger.
It didn’t take long for Montero to vocalize his thoughts on the incident and Puig.
“I don’t blame him for running me over,” Montero said Wednesday. “It’s part of the game. The only thing I really don’t appreciate is why you have to look back at me. I really don’t appreciate that.”
Puig’s explosive stint in the majors has garnered much attention. He’s batting a little below .400 and has 19 RBIs in just 35 games in the majors.
Even through his frustration, Montero couldn’t deny that Puig’s skill is there. But Montero still thinks there’s a crucial piece of 22-year-old’s game missing — respect.
“Right now, I’m not going to say he’s the best because he hasn’t proved anything yet,” Montero said. “Does he have talent? Of course. Does he have the tools? Of course. He’s got so much talent, it’d be really bad if he wasted it doing the stupid things that he’s doing. You have to respect to earn respect. If you don’t respect anybody, you aren’t going to earn respect.”
Of course, the heat of two NL West teams both battling for the division lead only stirs the pot. But even still, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson sees no issue with Puig, other than how to handle him at the plate.
“He’s just playing,” Gibson said. “Some people say he doesn’t know better. Why would he know any better? How much baseball has he played? He hasn’t been here that long and he hasn’t been in the country very long. He’s not Mickey Mantle yet, he’s kicking everybody’s [butt] and some people are jealous of that. The only thing I think about it how I get him out.”
After the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in three games this week, Montero, Gibson and company won’t have to worry about how to get Puig out until September. By then, he’ll have more games under his belt, and if Montero’s lucky, more respect.