Tuesday, March 26, 2013
That was Anti-climatic
Back in 1980, about a year out of high school, I was chatting it up with one of my high school buddies on the baseball diamond. We were out shagging flies and making small talk. Out of nowhere and without warning he said to me, “Hey, did you know Luke Skywalker’s father is Darth Vadar?”
“What?” I said, “Thanks a lot, man. I was going to see The Empire Strikes Back tonight.” Needless to say, the movie was ruined for me. To this day he still remembers that event. At our high school reunion 30 years later he spotted me from a distance and yelled, “Hey Ev, did you know Luke Sky...”
“Yeah, I know, I know Tim. Thanks for the heads up.”
I somewhat felt that same type of information gut punch today when the news hit the web that Puig is being sent down to AA Chattanooga. Maybe the term “gut punch” is too dramatic, but I was somewhat surprised as I thought he may have just played himself on to the Major League Roster.
I guess the Dodgers saw fit to end the suspense before he got to L.A. for the freeway series. They bursted the bubble of suspense before fans could build up the excitement some more. After all, the way he’s hitting, going 7 for 7 against the Angels this weekend could make the entire atmosphere regarding his roster spot speculation a near circus act.
The last thing the Dodgers need is a distraction and controversy as they open up against the Giants on Monday. Putting the Puig decision behind them before departing Glendale was probably the smart thing to do.
I say “probably” because now that we know he’ll start the season as a “Lookout” and not a “Dodger,” does that make anything less crazy this weekend when he hits a game winning walk off homer or he guns out Mike Trout at third on a missile launched throw from right field?
I guess it’s appropriate that he’ll be a “Lookout” because everyone should be looking out over their shoulder at what the Cuban Missile is doing on the Tennessee turf. This kid is the real deal and it’s nice to have a can’t miss prospect donning the blue for a change. Chattanooga is the wise choice for him too and not in the rarified air in Albuquerque where he'll most likely continue to mash.
Deep down, this decision was probably a wise one. First because the free agency clock won’t start ticking for Puig in 2013, making him Dodger property through 2019. This also allows him to hone some skills that need work. Those are mainly base running issues. He has a propensity to over run bases, which are mental mistakes of enthusiasm, hardly a problem in my view.
Now that the games count, he’ll be walked and pitched around more, and it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with that. Will he chase pitches out of the zone? No signs of that so far.
Lastly, when the inevitable occurs and his torrid hitting comes to an end, Puig will for the first time be facing the rigors of a baseball season and the self searching for answers due to the failures that accompany the baseball season’s marathon. He needs to work his way through them and dig down deep. Doing that on a national stage with the Dodgers will be more difficult for the youngster.
I’m sorry to see Puig sent down, but it’s understandable. We’ll see him again, and I would bet that it’s soon. Injury always rears its ugly head during the season. Someone in the outfield will go down and Puig will be called up. I wouldn't be surprised if Puig sees Major League action this year before Hanley Ramirez does.