Will he or won’t he?
That seems to be the question on everybody’s mind in regards to Yasiel Puig’s candidacy for the 2013 All-Star Game.
The decision is no longer up to the players or coaches, as the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder is currently one of five finalists (teammate Adrian Gonzalez, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence) for the National League’s final fan vote.
Still, that didn’t stop the media from asking Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson about the rookie phenom Monday night.
However, instead of talking about fan voting or Puig’s All-Star merits, the attention turned to the outfielder’s all-out mentality.
Through 33 games, Puig is batting .409 with eight home runs and 19 RBI.
He also has 17 multi-hit games and the National League Player and Rookie of the Month awards to show for himself since being called up June 2.
However, with the good — and there’s been plenty of it — has been some bad and even some ugly, especially when it comes to the 22-year-old’s tendency to sometimes try to do too much on the base paths or in the field.
“Yeah, I noticed that,” said Gibson when asked if he’s seen the way Puig goes all out all the time.
It’s a trait the former MVP is familiar with, after all he played the game with a similar mentality as a 22-year-old rookie with the Detroit Tigers back in 1979.
Gibson said it took a combination of things, including guidance from Sparky Anderson and suffering unnecessary injuries, for him to learn that he needed to tone down his approach.
It’s an area of maturation, the D-backs manager thinks Puig will also learn to embrace over time.
“I have a son who plays in the Northwest League, and I had a conversation with him because he runs all-out on every ball. He says, ‘I can’t play any other way.’ Puig’s going to tell you the same thing. Kirk Gibson when he was 21 years old would say the same thing. That’s admirable, I think that’s a great trait,” said Gibson. “He has this wealth of physical talent and this positive energy that he brings to his team and to the game, and the wisdom part he’ll start acquiring over time, too.
“They start to meet, and as they get closer together, that’s really when you have a finished product and somebody who is really powerful and more consistent in big-time situations.”
While Puig might play the game with a reckless, and at times, naive abandon, the Dodgers are 20-13 with him in the lineup this season and have moved from fifth to second place in the National League West standings.
Rivalry aside, count the D-backs manager among those appreciative of the impact the Dodgers outfielder has already had on the game in such a limited amount of time.
“That’s refreshing to watch,” Gibson said of Puig. “Honestly, even from an opponent’s view, that’s refreshing.”