LOS ANGELES - My how time flies. The Cuban phenom Dodgers' hall-of-fame broadcaster Vin Scully likes to call "The Wild Horse" is celebrating his first anniversary in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It's been a whirlwind year for Yasiel Puig who blasted onto the scene last year on June 3rd infusing a dose of life into a Dodgers team that was lifeless floundering in last place in the N.L. West with a 23-32 record 8-and-a-half games behind the then first place Arizona Diamondbacks when he was called up from double-A Chattanooga the day before.
After Puig's debut, the Dodgers reeled off 42 wins in the next 50 games propelling them to the N.L. West Title and a playoff berth where they eventually lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.
Back to his debut on June 3rd 2013.
In his first at-bat he singled to left-center off Eric Stults of the San Diego Padres going 2 for 4 in the game. What most remember is Puig showcasing his strong arm by recording an outfield assist on a double play to end the game.
In 156 games since his debut Puig is batting .329 with 36 doubles, 5 triples, 82 RBI. Puig's only the 5th player in MLB history with at least 190 hits and 30 home runs within one year of his debut. He's got 30 round-trippers and 191 hits since his debut in the majors.
Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly says Puig is still learning and fortunate to have teammates who can "speak his language" in more ways than one that have helped him in his first year in the majors.
"I think as a young player there's all kinds of things you continue to grow with." Is what Mattingly told the media before the Dodgers began a 3-game interleague series against the Chicago White Sox at Dodger Stadium Monday night. "Just going through a lot of experiences I think are good for him. Adrian's (Gonzalez) little game they play are good for him.Him struggling with throws and the criticism he gets with it is good for him because he matures through that."
To hear more from Mattingly on Yasiel Puig, click on the video with this story.
Prior to tonight's game with the White Sox Puig will receive the Dodgers' State Farm Player of the Month award and could garner the National League's award as well leading the N.L. during May with hits (43), extra base hits (19), home runs (8), batting average (.398) on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 28 games.
A reunion of sorts for Puig and teammate Erisbel Arruebarrena as they welcome four fellow Cubans playing with the White Sox including Jose Abreu who was reinstated from the disabled list Monday afternoon. Puig and Abreu were teammates on Cienfuegos for two seasons.
The other Cubans on Chicago's roster are Adrian Nieto, Alex Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo.
Dodgers enter the series having lost 4-of-5 with a record of 30-28. The White Sox have won 4-of-6 entering the series. Chicago sends left-hander Jose Oquindo (3-4, 3.61 ERA) to the hill. the Dodgers counter with left-hander Clayton Kershaw (3-2, 3.57 ERA).