LOS ANGELES – In a year when the Dodgers are being called the Yankees of the West because of their massive payroll and lineup, Yasiel Puig is the biggest story coming out of this year's spring training. Writers have compared him to Bo Jackson for his hitting and base running, and the legendary Roberto Clemente for his arm.
Stories of his slugging at the plate and quickness around the bases are making not only the fans, but the Dodgers excited for his future. The Dodgers set a spring training all-time attendance record at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ on a day that Puig was in the lineup.
He was killing it this spring, with a .526 batting average. Puig was signed last summer for $42 million, one of the first moves by the new ownership group, Guggenheim partners. He is 22 years old and he is a Cuban defector. He tried several times to defect and missed the whole 2011 baseball season in Cuba because he was punished for trying to leave Cuba.
Yasiel Puig, (pronounced Ya-seal Pweeg) played in the minors for the Dodgers last season, and has actually been sent back down for the beginning of this season. He's starting in Double A Chatanooga, but lots of beat reporters think it won't be long until he's up in the majors.
An article by Dylan Hernandez in the LA Times on Tuesday suggested that the reason he's going down to the minors is because if he plays a month in Double A, the team will gain a year on his contract before he came become a free agent. And if he really is what they think he is, that's a bargain. When was the last time you heard of a .526 batting average?
So, Dodger fans can get a chance to see him up close in Rancho Cucamonga. It's a sold out game and a couple of other big Dodger stars will be there including Adrian Gonzales and Carl Crawford (each one pulls in $20 million for the season). Gates open at Rancho at 3 p.m. and the game is at 6 p.m.
It is possible he will be at the other two games this weekend at Dodger and Angel stadium as well, but we know for sure he'll be at Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Thursday. The Epicenter, the name of the field, is a much more intimate baseball stadium, like a spring training field.