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Yasiel Puig, healthy and thriving, joins Tomato Face in Dodgers history

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

SAN DIEGO -- There are many things to like about the Dodgers' 2-0 start to the season. After all, they have outscored the Padres 18-0 so far, and not allowing a run would be some sort of a record if they were to keep it up. But one of the most positive signs and perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing part of the last two games has been watching Yasiel Puig run the bases.

No, I'm not talking about his running to first base after getting walked like Pete Rose or David Eckstein, as Puig did on Tuesday.

On Monday night, Puig hit a ball to the gap and got a little league homer out of it, though it was really a triple plus him scampering home after an errant throw. He followed that up Tuesday with a two-run triple in the fourth against James Shields.

This ball was driven over the head of Jon Jay in center field, allowing Puig to run free on the basepaths. He made it into third base easily for his second triple in as many games. It is a welcome sight after Puig hit just three triples in all of 2015, a season cut short to just 79 games with injuries to both hamstrings.

"I worked really hard at it in Miami and Los Angeles [during the offseason]. I worked on my legs," Puig said through a translator after the game. "It's something I didn't do last year, and a reason why I wasn't as prepared as I could have been. But this year I have been working on it, and getting good results."

That Puig is healthy enough to run free does have its occasional drawbacks, like nearly colliding with center fielder Joc Pederson on a fly ball in the first inning, a ball that Pederson amazingly caught despite getting shielded by Puig.

But a healthy Puig is almost overwhelmingly positive and a much-needed thing for the Dodgers. He's 3-for-6 with those two triples and two walks plus was hit by a pitch, reaching base in six of his nine trips to the plate.

"Yasiel is having some good at-bats. That was a big hit, that [triple] that he had to beat the center fielder Jay," manager Dave Roberts said. "He's seeing the baseball, and for the most part swinging at strikes and taking balls. When he gets on base and conducts those at-bats for us in the middle of the order, good things will happen."

Just about every ball hit by Puig through two games has been hit hard, somewhere.

"I'm trying to stay back on pitches, trying to not go with what they're trying to get him with," Puig said. "It has helped to make good contact with the ball."

With those two triples so far, Puig joins Nick Cullop as the only Dodgers since 1913 to hit triples in each of the first two games of the season. Cullop turned the trick in 1929, his only season with the Dodgers, a season that saw him only play 13 total games and hit no more triples.

But perhaps the best part of this story is that Cullop's nickname, per Baseball-Reference, is Tomato Face.

Tomato Face and the Wild Horse, a perfect pair.

Up next

The gauntlet is thrown for Kenta Maeda, who needs to allow no runs and one hit on Wednesday night or risk being ostracized by his pitching brethren. Andrew Cashner gets the call for the Padres in a 6:10 p.m. PT start as the Dodgers go for the sweep.