On Tuesday night, Yasiel Puig made an ill-advised attempt to score from third base when Diamondbacks shorstop Didi Gregarius appeared to pocket a cutoff throw from centerfield. Puig was out by 10 feet, but dropped his shoulder on Arizona catcher Miguel Montero anyway. Montero held onto the ball for the out, but the two players exchanged glares after the play, with Montero wagging his finger at Puig. Before Wednesday night's game, Montero had some advice for the Dodgers rookie.
"If he's my teammate, I probably try to teach him how to behave in the big leagues," Montero told MLB.com's Tyler Emerick. "He's creating a bad reputation around the league, and it's unfortunate because the talent that he has is to be one of the greatest players in the big leagues. Right now, I'm not going to say he's the best because he hasn't proved anything yet. Does he have talent? Of course. Does he have the tools? Of course. He's got so much talent, it'd be really bad if he wasted it doing the stupid things that he's doing. You have to respect to earn respect. If you don't respect anybody, you aren't going to earn respect.
"I don't blame him running me over, it's part of the game," Montero added. "The only thing I really don't appreciate is why you have to look back at me. I really don't appreciate that. It's immaturity. It's part of his confidence right now that everything is going his way. Everything is right for him, he feels pretty good about himself. This game pays back though, he's going to have his bad moments out there and then he's going to realize he needs to change. When you go 0-for-20 or 1-for-50, then you realize it. . . . He'll learn, he's just got four weeks in the big leagues and is having a great time now. The game will humble you for sure. The game doesn't need you, we need the game."
Montero is developing a bit of a reputation himself as talker, having previously voiced complaints about pitching prospect Trevor Bauer both during and after Bauer's time with the Diamondbacks. Montero and Puig were also both in the middle of the action in the bean-brawl between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks last month, both being hit by pitches and incurring fines.
Both Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly brushed off Montero's criticisms. Puig probably does need to tone it down a little. It was exciting when he scored from second on a groundout last week, but he probably should have been out on that play as well, and his decision to go home on Tuesday night was just foolish. There are also the usual concerns about his aggressive play leading to injury as he has had his share of scary slides, dives and collisions with the outfield wall already. As is the case for many players (Bryce Harper, another preternatural talent who probably believes he is capable of anything on a baseball field and isn't far from wrong, leaps to mind here), Puig needs to figure out how to be both aggressive and smart. That said, if this is the only version of Yasiel Puig we ever get, most people around baseball will probably take it.