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Puig tries Dodgers' patience

Updated: 2014-03-29 07:36
By Associated Press in Los Angeles ( China Daily)

The Los Angeles Dodgers held a team meeting to address young star Yasiel Puig's baserunning blunders.

Manager Don Mattingly called the meeting earlier this week after the 23-year-old Cuban defector made two mistakes on the basepaths during the Dodgers' season-opening, two-game trip to Australia last weekend - mistakes that made headlines in the media.

'"I thought it was a really good meeting, actually," Mattingly said on Thursday. "But again, it is one of those things that if guys want to talk about it, they can. I don't think it is something we need to talk about. We are just looking to get better all the time."

The dynamic right fielder became an instant sensation last year when made his big league debut June 3 and helped lead the Dodgers from last to the NL West title. But Mattingly was often frustrated by Puig's decision-making in the field and on the bases.

'"He pushes the limit. He pushes it to the edge. But then you have to re-think it and think about all the great things he does to help you win games in ways only his talent can do," said teammate A.J. Ellis.

"So there is give and take, and he is learning. But it is like we always say, we would rather make an aggressive mistake than make a conservative mistake."

Problems arose again Down Under. Puig made two errors on the bases then struck out in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He then did not take his position in right field for the bottom of the ninth, complaining of a back problem.

An MRI was negative, but Puig missed the team's workout on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium to get treatment.

"It is up to us to help him in that maturity process, and the way we do that is to support him and encourage him no matter what," Ellis said.

"Hopefully we can all be good examples, and he can take stock and inventory of how the professionals in this clubhouse go about their business."

Meanwhile, the World Series champion Boston Red Sox announced on Thursday southpaw Jon Lester has been picked to start on opening day in Baltimore against the Orioles.

Red Sox manager John Farrell made the announcement at the team's training facility in Fort Meyers, Florida. The news came as no surprise, but Farrell had waited to make an announcement.

"I know, it is earth-shattering," quipped the manager.

It will be Lester's fourth consecutive opening day start, the fifth-longest streak in team history behind Pedro Martinez (seven), Roger Clemens (seven), Dennis Eckersley (five) and Cy Young (five).

Lester went 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 starts and 213 1/3 innings last year, helping the Red Sox to their third World Series championship in 10 years.

The 30-year-old left-hander is 100-56 with a 3.76 ERA in eight seasons with Boston.

"He has become a very good pitcher at a young age," Farrell said. "For a guy that has made that number of starts for a franchise as storied as this, it speaks volumes."

Lester, who can become a free agent after the season, has been in talks with the Red Sox about a new contract.

"Since the talks have started, he has done a very good job of compartmentalizing it," Farrell said. "He has been able to focus on the task at hand. He is been able to concentrate and maintain his focus. It speaks to his mental strength."

In three appearances this spring, Lester is 1-1 with a 0.71 ERA. He has given up one earned run over 12 2/3 innings with three walks and 14 strikeouts.

(China Daily 03/29/2014 page15)