Dodgers, Yasiel Puig clear air

ByRamona Shelburne ESPN logo
Thursday, March 27, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig is always going to be a story. The Los Angeles Dodgers just don't want him to be the only story anyone ever talks about on a team with World Series aspirations.

So before the latest controversy with Puig had a chance to mushroom, manager Don Mattingly called a team meeting Tuesday to clear the air, sources with knowledge of the situation told

A source described Puig as "very open" during the meeting and receptive to what was said.

"I asked them to please keep helping me," Puig told "Specifically with baserunning and hitting my cutoff man. I want them to help me with everything they can."

The meeting previously was described as being between the second-year outfielder and the manager, but Mattingly wanted the entire team to have a forum to address the subject in-house, rather than have frustrations boil over or leak out through the media. Veterans Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe were the most vocal players during the meeting, sources said.

"It was good for everybody. Donnie just wanted to squash this, and it did," one veteran, who asked not to be named, told

Puig said he understood his teammates "wanted to help me get better" and encouraged them to approach him directly anytime they had something to say to him.

"Puig's a good kid. He just didn't come up through the system like we all did," a veteran teammate said.

Afterward, Mattingly addressed the media and said of Puig, "We're good. I've got no issues with Yasiel."

The latest issue with Puig came in the Dodgers' two-game opening series in Australia, where Puig had two baserunning blunders in Sunday's 7-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, then left the game in the bottom of the ninth inning after striking out in the top of the frame.

Before that game, Mattingly had said Puig "grabs something every time he takes a swing and misses."

When asked afterward why Puig departed, an apparently frustrated Mattingly said, "I guess his back. Shoulder yesterday, back today. So I'm not sure if they're going to get tests on him or get him to the MRI Monday or a bone scan on Tuesday, maybe. I'm not quite sure what we'll do. We may not do anything. I'm not sure."

Mattingly told reporters Tuesday that he did not mean for his pregame and postgame comments to be construed as connected.

"I know Yasiel is a huge lightning rod, and anything I say is a huge story and anything he does is a huge story," Mattingly said, according to "Maybe I should've been more clear -- the before and after were two different things.

"It was general frustration over that game. It's a win, we'll take it. But the guys got to know we can't play like that and expect to win anything. I want the team to know that."

Puig missed the Dodgers' workout Tuesday in Los Angeles in order to get treatment on his lower back. An MRI revealed no damage, Mattingly said.'s Mark Saxon contributed to this report.