SAN FRANCISCO — Yasiel Puig believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field.
Puig returned to the starting lineup in right field for Thursday’s series finale against the Giants amid reports that smugglers who helped him defect from Cuba had threatened his life.
“I’m only concentrating on the season and being the best teammate and helping my teammates,” Puig said, speaking in Spanish during an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday morning at his locker in AT&T Park.
While Puig won’t address the details specifically because of a pending legal case, he said he will focus on baseball and on helping the defending NL West champion Dodgers keep winning. He went 1 for 4 with a strikeout in Thursday’s 2-1 victory. While he dropped a routine fly to right, he also made two nice catches on the run.
“I have great teammates who are helping support me so much this season and to focus on the season when I get to the stadium so I am comfortable,” Puig said. “That way I don’t start thinking about anything negative in the stadium. I’m only thinking about working on the things that are going to make me a better ballplayer.”
The 23-year-old, scratched from the starting lineup after arriving late for his team’s home opener April 4, is hitting .250 with one home run and five RBIs in his second major league season.
He said after the game he is committed to baseball “so those things that are happening don’t torment me.”
“We’re at the field right now. We’ve just got to be thinking about baseball,” teammate Hanley Ramirez said. “What I’ve seen is he’s been learning and he’s just happy to be here. He’s playing today and he told me he’s going to do everything it takes to win today’s game.”