The high-spending, star-studded Los Angeles Dodgers came into spring training last season as the favorite to win the National League West. They had superstars up and down their lineup and top quality arms on the mound. But they got off to a slow start and quickly fell 9.5 games back in the division. But once the weather warmed up, the team went on a beyond impressive 48-2 run over a 50 game stretch.
Hall of Famer and Dodger great, Sandy Koufax, thinks that Cuban defector Yasiel Puig’s presence on the team helped to spark their winning ways. Puig made his Major League debut on June 3. The team finished the 2014 season with 92 wins and made it to the National League Championship series.
One would think that an old-school baseball guy like Koufax would not enjoy Puig’s showmanship, bat-flipping, flashy style of play. However, Koufax has come out and defended the 23 year old outfielder. “If the showmanship doesn’t involve bad decisions, yeah it’s fine. People love it.” Koufax also said that Puig was fun to watch.
Koufax admires Puig’s athletic ability. The Cuban has a plus arm and incredible talent. However, Koufax wants Puig to concentrate more on the fundamentals. “He’s young. The biggest thing is he’s not played against competition as good as he is. So you’re always able to have your physical ability make up for whatever else you do. He’s learning. I’m sure it’s going to happen. He has too much talent.”
— Francisco De Jesus (@TheFrannyD) July 29, 2013
Koufax knows that Puig needs more time in the Major Leagues to mature. However, the lefty can’t deny the Cuban defector’s natural talent. “He’s so physically talented. Everybody makes the comparison to Bo Jackson. The Cardinals had a guy who played football and baseball, Brian Jordan. These guys are so strong and so fast. Big, strong and fast. A combination you don’t always see.”
The former Cy Young winner was at Dodger spring training camp this week with the team as they prepare for the long baseball season. Koufax serves as a special advisor to Chairman Mark Walter. The Los Angeles Dodgers will once again be considered front-runners to take home the National League pennant in 2014. Their opening day is on April 1 against the San Diego Padres in San Diego.
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