LOS ANGELES – Better late than never.
While Yasiel Puig arrived late at Dodger Stadium to receive his National League championship ring, he was just in time to meet a Clayton Kershaw, a two-time homer, in bat against his former team.
Puig was greeted with cheers as he approached the plate, and Dodgers fans sang his name as he led the bases.
Puig – who came to a press conference for about 70 minutes should start at 3 pm PT – said before the game in Spanish that he might "cry" when he heard Dodgers fans seeing him during his six-year residency in LA so passionately supported before he sang his name again before his first attack.
"I have not seen the games, I do not know how many people and how many fans came here," Puig said about Dodger Stadium, answering one of several questions in Spanish. "But I'm sure there were more fans here than I played here."
It was therefore appropriate that Puig miss the ceremony to welcome him and the hosts. Other former Dodgers who were involved in the trade that sent Puig to the Cincinnati Reds back in LA Dodgers manager Dave Roberts accompanied on Monday afternoon by owner Mark Walter, CEO Stan Kasten and the president of Basebal Operations Andrew Friedman in front of the visiting clubhouse. Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer got their new jewelery there and talked to each other.
"Puig did not make it," Roberts said with a dry smile.
Puig, Kemp, Wood and Farmer were all greeted with a tribute video before the game Monday night.
As he prepares for his debut for 2019, the Dodgers ace knows, "If you're constantly hurting, you'll have to change." That could mean bringing back a pitch he did not lean on often.
Roberts, who has had a pleasant exchange with Puig since trading, expects fans to equip Puig with standing ovations. 19659002] "They should too," he said. "This guy did a lot of things in the community and helped the Dodgers do a lot of good things."
Puig went into the series with a .163 / .200 / .302 line in 45 record appearances for a Reds team that had won only five times in their first 14 games. But Roberts, who has activated Kershaw from the injured list to start this game, expects Puig's best performance this week.
"If he's motivated and incentivized, he's a very good player," said Roberts. "This is as much motivation as possible before him."
Puig was dazzled early and showed a .305 / .386 / .502 line, while showing elite defense and infective energy from 2013 to 2014. He made the All-Star team and almost won the NL prize Rookie of the Year. From 2015 to 2016 Puig was limited to 183 games. From 2017 to 2018, its slash line dropped to 0.264 / 0.373 / 0.490.
During a press conference that lasted about 15 minutes, Puig glowered at the camaraderie that exists in the Reds clubhouse. He mentioned the young players who are constantly asking questions and apparently admiring him. He talked about all the meals they share and how often they text outside the field. He called Joey Votto "the best man I've ever met in my life." And he hinted that he did not have enough of the Dodgers.
"This is one of the nicest things I have with my new team," Puig said in Spanish. "This support, being on the side of each other every day and talking in the locker room, on the bus, on the flight, in the field, off the field, we always have good communication, and I do not feel so much nostalgia "As you may think, I would feel for the Dodgers."
After 40 minutes passed in a quiet interview room before Puig's press conference, Reds Vice President of Media Relations, Rob Butcher, turned to the podium to announce that Puig had not been yet arrive, pulling a giggle from the media contingent.
"I do not know what else I can tell you," Butcher said. About half an hour later, just after Roberts had finished his home dugout session, Puig appeared in the interview room and wore a black T-shirt in honor of Jackie Robinson. He was told by a Spanish-speaking reporter that the media had been waiting for his arrival.
Puig dropped his shoulders.
"I was hoping they would all go."