The Tuesday talk between Yasiel Puig and manager Don Mattingly turned out to be a little bit larger than first reported. The Dodgers held a team meeting two days ago to "clear the air" regarding Puig, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
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 ESPN.com. "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 ESPN.com.
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.
The coverage of Puig and the online reaction to it has always been fascinating, with extremes on both sides.
"I understand he's a lightning rod," Mattingly said on Tuesday. "Anytime I say anything about him or he does anything it turns into a story."
Part of the reason it turned into a story this week were Mattingly's own comments about Puig in Australia, both before and after Sunday's game. Mattingly, who played in New York for 14 years, is no stranger to using the media to make a point, though none of this struck me as problematic because I'd bet money none of what Mattingly said to reporters wasn't also communicated by Mattingly to Puig directly.
Puig is easily the Dodgers' most exciting player, for both good and bad reasons, mostly good. The issue has always been how exactly does the team deal with the bad, especially when the mistakes are repeated and could be easily corrected.
So far the Dodgers have had no choice but to continue playing Puig, as he has been since his arrival one of the team's best players. Counting the playoffs, Puig has started 118 of 129 games since he was promoted to the majors last June 3, more than any other outfielder on the team, and even played in eight of the 11 games he didn't start.
Part of that reliance on Puig has been because the Dodgers haven't really had their four starting outfielders healthy at once. The two games last year that Puig, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford were all healthy - July 5 in San Francisco and July 21 in Washington - both saw Kemp leave the game early with an injury.
Perhaps starting as early as next Friday's home opener, that could change, with Kemp nearing a return to the Dodgers after offseason ankle surgery. It's much easier to discipline Puig - if needed - when the other three outfielders are healthy and productive.
But it doesn't necessarily have to come to that, and the team meeting was a step in the right direction to help deal with this before it becomes a bigger problem.