is 5-for-20 with a homer and four RBI in his first five games of 2014. (Kelvin Kuo/AP)
Yasiel Puig just can't avoid controversy. Originally penciled in as the Dodgers' No. 2 hitter for today's home opener against the Giants, Puig was instead removed from the lineup after he showed up late to the park. Matt Kemp, recently activated off the disabled list, will take his spot in the order. According to the Los Angeles Times' Dylan Hernandez, Puig thought he was supposed to be at the park at 10 AM PT, when he was actually supposed to be there in time for a stretch at 9:40 AM.
It's yet another flashpoint in the ongoing saga of Puig, who came under fire from the season's very outset. After the Dodgers' series in Australia, Puig apparently drew the ire of manager Don Mattingly after leaving a game in the ninth inning following a strikeout. In postgame remarks, Mattingly seemingly expressed his frustration with Puig's departure, caused by a minor back strain during a swing, then said that he never knew just how hurt Puig was. That same game, Puig was thrown out twice on the basepaths. That followed up a couple of incidents last season, including one in which Puig was pulled mid-game for not running a ball hard out of the batters' box.
Puig had avoided running afoul of Mattingly since the team's return to the U.S., even going so far as to call a meeting with his teammates
before the season started to ask them what he could do to improve. But it's not hard to imagine that this latest mixup, regardless of how minor it is, will get Puig's detractors back on his heels.