Feb 13, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) and third baseman Juan Uribe (5) take batting practice with Mark McGwire during camp at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Yasiel Puig Needs to Drive in the Slow Lane for Awhile

We all know that Yasiel Puig likes to drive fast. His personality seems to be a nonstop ball of energy. While that makes for exciting play on the baseball field, his all-out style of play has already spurned a bout of shoulder inflammation this Spring.

Puig underwent a MRI earlier this week and was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation. He has since returned to workouts at Camelback Ranch on a limited throwing program. Thankfully the scan didn’t show any injury, but Puig should take precaution and slow it down since Spring Training has barely just begun. It’s only February, but Puig is already raring to go right out of the gate. With a ton of expectations upon his shoulders, it is no wonder that the Cuban sensation is looking to succeed during his first full year in the Majors with the Dodgers.

Feb 12, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig during team workouts at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 12, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig during team workouts at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 23-year old outfielder had some shoulder inflammation off and on last season as well. Puig’s right shoulder flared up again after he most likely threw too soon and too much during the early Spring Training workouts. He will need to learn how to pace himself and slowly acclimate himself as Spring Training progresses. Hopefully the training staff can help Puig with his training regimen in order to have him fully prepared by Opening Day yet healthy and strong at the same time. It’s hard to reign in such a determined and extremely dynamic player, but Puig has to be honed in for the long season ahead.

Last year Puig hit an incredible .517 during Spring Training. He shouldn’t be looking to outdo that performance from last year since Spring Training should be a time to work up stamina, use drills and the coaching resources at hand to perfect one’s skill set, practice alongside one’s teammates in order to build team chemistry and fluidity on the field, and of course to mentally prepare for Opening Day. There’s no need to prove that Puig can hit .500 this Spring, but instead he should be working out in the outfield on the defensive side (perhaps practicing throwing to the cut-off man) as well as refining his swing and getting his timing right.

It appears that his shoulder inflammation isn’t hampering his swing thus far, and it was reported that he was hitting long balls out on Friday while teammates Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Andre Ethier all participated in one of the first batting cage sessions of the Spring.

Puig’s errant throws in Game 6 of the NLCS last season were some of the final moments we had of number 66 in 2013, and I would think that Puig didn’t want to end the season on such a sour note. Even though Puig’s mistakes weren’t the only ones that cost the Dodgers the series and the opportunity to clinch a long awaited World Series berth, Puig had many fans dismayed by his overthrows. I for one would never want Puig to change his aggressive style, but he could gain some refinement out in the field and on the base path which would only heighten his game.

The offseason saw Puig in the headlines after he was arrested in Miami for driving 110-mph on the freeway. His second arrest since coming to the United States made me cringe thinking he had not learned his lesson the first time around. The reckless driving charges were dropped, and Puig won’t be facing any jail time for his mistake. He supposedly hired a friend to drive him around for the time being, and maybe having someone else show Puig the slower course to take is something which could benefit him not only on the roadways but also on the field.

I can’t help but worry just a bit about Puig’s shoulder issues after watching Matt Kemp’s shoulder problems essentially erase two seasons from his career. With questions regarding the training staff allowing Kemp to play while hurt and attempt to come back too soon, I’m really hoping the trainers are very cautious with Puig. Right now it is just some mild inflammation, but there’s no reason to play with pain being that is still only February.

The Wild Horse shouldn’t be tamed, but perhaps he should trot instead of gallop for awhile.

Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training 2014 Yasiel Puig

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