ST. LOUIS >> Yasiel Puig was smiling Tuesday afternoon, cracking jokes, looking nothing like a man who’d just been benched for a playoff game for the first time in his major-league career.
He learned his fate the same way the rest of us at Busch Stadium did: by seeing Andre Ethier‘s name in the lineup card. But Puig said in Spanish that he didn’t need to talk to manager Don Mattingly about the decision.
“We need to win that game,” Puig said. “I’m not working well on the field against St. Louis. It’s gone really bad in this series but … we’re doing the best we can. I’d like to hit every time I’ve gone up to bat, but haven’t been able to do so and I just win this game today with Ethier back there and with all of the guys that are playing. We know that we’re going to win with (Clayton) Kershaw on the mound and then continue at home with (Zack) Greinke.”
Yasiel Puig was hit in the left shoulder by a pitch from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright in the third inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday at Dodger Stadium, inciting a benches-clearing argument between the two teams.
There’s a history. Puig and Hanley Ramirez — twice — were hit by pitches in the most recent regular-season series between the teams in July.
Last October, Ramirez was hit in the ribs by a pitch from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. After sitting out Game 2, Ramirez attempted to play hurt in the final four games of the series but was not a factor.
Friday, Wainwright brushed Ramirez back with a pitch in the first inning, provoking Ramirez to glare at the mound. Ramirez later lined out to third base to end the at-bat — and the first inning.
This incident was relatively tame. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez both left the bench in an uproar. Along with Puig, they took turns shouting at Wainwright and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Both managers and coaches from both sides successfully got between the yelling players, and the argument died down after a few minutes.
Both benches were warned, but no players were ejected. The most violent moment — if you can call it that — is when Molina shoved home-plate umpire Jerry Meals:
Puig later came around to score on a single by Ramirez. That tied the game 1-1. Ramirez stole second base and scored on a ground-rule double by Carl Crawford, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
Two things I want to emphasize that might not be clear on the surface:
1. Crawford wasn’t removed for precautionary reasons tonight. As he explained in my story, he was in genuine pain.
2. It’s really difficult to know what to make of the Puig-Kemp thing. Could be something, could be nothing. Could be something that happens all the time between closed doors, could be something that never happened before today. Again, we don’t really know. The truth is probably somewhere in between; if it was nothing it wouldn’t have gotten caught on camera and Don Mattingly wouldn’t have been nervously laughing and sipping water after the game:
That’s not good however you paint it, but it’s not enough to draw broad brushstrokes about the Dodgers’ team chemistry. It’s two emotionally charged teammates who didn’t see eye-to-eye in Game 150. Maybe it lingers, maybe it doesn’t. We’ll see.
A South Florida man has been arrested for his alleged role in a smuggling venture that brought Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig out of Cuba, according to court records.
The records show Gilberto Suarez is scheduled to make an initial appearance Thursday in Miami federal court on a charge of alien smuggling. Suarez was arrested Wednesday and it wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.
The indictment against Suarez remained sealed before the hearing, but a civil lawsuit filed in Miami against Puig contains details about him.
Those documents describe Suarez as one of the Miami-based men who financed Puig’s 2012 trip by boat from Cuba to Isla Mujeres, a fishing village near Cancun, Mexico. The initial price for the trip was $250,000, then was raised by the smugglers to $400,000.
Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was the last position player on the field Wednesday, arriving a few minutes after his teammates for the pregame routine.
That is nothing new; today’s tardy, however, was excused. Puig informed team officials in advance that he would be late because he had to take his mother to a hospital.
Puig is batting leadoff tonight against the San Diego Padres.
“It’s time to get him going,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “The biggest thing is that we need him. Everything we’ve tried to so so far has been trying to get him going, trying to take pressure off him in different spots. When he’s going good were a better team.”