Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Puig Reminds Us Why He's the Starting Right Fielder

I think it's fair to say that Australia is really a long ways away, but Puig's 8th inning shot against Team Australia may be on its way up here in a circuitous orbit.  It was nice to see the Dodger right fielder have a solid game, as he has definitely had his struggles this spring.  I've read some pieces on Puig this spring that are calling for him to be sent down to the minors.  It's a ludicrous suggestion and made by some that simply don't have the patience to follow the marathon season.

Puig's two run shot (AP Photo)
These are the facts.

1) Spring training games do not count.
2) Puig is adjusting to scouting reports that are going after his weaknesses.  He has adjusted in the past and he'll adjust in the future.  He's too good of a player.
3) No matter how bad Yasiel may be slumping, you can't teach his natural talent.  There is always the possibility that he'll blast one out of the park or he'll throw a seed to the plate to nail a runner, (just as he did today).
4) He did gain weight, and that is a concern, but it is coming off.  Plus, he still runs like a gazelle with the power of a freight train.
5) Puig is a team leader whether you want to believe it or not.  He's charismatic and a charmer.  He's a great teammate and a spark plug.  He puts fans in the seats and that type of player isn't going to Albuquerque unless it's a rehab assignment for an injury recovery.
6) Watch for Puig to mature more and more as a player.  There are signs that he is listening to coaches and the errors of enthusiasm are not happening as often as before.


Cincinnati's ace reliever Aroldis Chapman took a line drive off his face in yesterday's action in Surprise, AZ.  As much as there has been some clamoring for protection of pitchers on the mound, including the protective cap, there are some things that you can't provide protection for unless there are drastic equipment changes made.  Those changes would literally change the face of the game.  The only thing that could have saved Chapman last night would have been a catcher's face mask or plastic face guard.  Something that I'm sure 99.9% of pitchers would refuse to wear.

Reports are that Chapman suffered facial fractures around his left eye and on his nose.  Report and video of the incident LINKED HERE

Back in Australia: Adrian Gonzalez left early from yesterday's action with a lower back ailment.  This doesn't bode well for AGon who insists he'll play the two games on Saturday.  I know last year he had some back issues early in the season.  (Correction: it was neck stiffness after colliding with an umpire).  I only bring this up because of the 15-16 flight home that he'll have to take to return home after the series.  The training staff will probably take precautions for him and set him up in a comfortable bed, but it's still 15 hours on a plane.  Those who have experience with back ailments know that laying down isn't always the best tactic to take when dealing with lower back pain.
I think the Dodgers will be OK with the bench.  The losses of Punto, Hairston, Mark Ellis and Schumacher are replaced with Turner, Figgins, Gordon, and Guerrero.  Ellis' defense will be missed, but Gordon's speed and Guerrero's pop will be an asset.  The chalk lines down the first base line will be preserved too with Nick Punto now making his headfirst dives into 1st in Oakland.  The 4 who departed were veterans and consummate team players.  Their leadership may be missed but this Dodger team has plenty of leaders to pick up the slack.

With two weeks to go before state-side regular season games begin, key 25 man roster decisions still need to be made, and there will probably be a real unhappy relief pitcher or two that dot make the cut.  I think it would be a mistake to send Alex Guerrero to the minors.  He has shown he can hit and his defense hasn't been too shabby.  Additionally, I wish the Dodgers would have let him play a little shortstop during the exhibition season.  With Hanley Ramirez' injury history, you never know what could happen.

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