Olney on Puig:
In the midst of an exhibition game in Arizona, the Texas Rangers ran a pickoff play with Yasiel Puig at second base, successfully. Puig jogged back to the dugout, head down, and what he did not do was go to the end of the bench and emotionally barricade himself from any of the team's staffers.
What Puig did do was go directly to Dave Roberts, put a hand on the shoulder of the new Los Angeles Dodgers manager and tell him, in so many words: That was my fault, and it'll never happen again.
Given all that has transpired in Puig's career, with the baserunning and the fielding and the clubhouse mistakes mixed in with the power and the speed, nobody will ever hold Puig to the impossible standard he set for himself in that moment with Roberts. But it was one indication for those around him, among others, that Puig is clearly trying to evolve as a player and a teammate. He has established a beachhead of change, and time will tell whether this is all temporary and whether Puig will revert to doing the stuff that has bothered others in the clubhouse, including former manager Don Mattingly.
Puig is trying, reaching out to others around him to ask how he can get better. He took to heart his first meeting with Roberts, who initially said this: "Tell me about your family."
The second topic Roberts raised, after family, was accountability, and Roberts talked about how the manager needed to be accountable to his players, and how the players needed to be accountable to their peers. It wasn't long after that that a throw got past first base in an exhibition and Roberts saw Puig hustling to be exactly where he should be, backing up the play, intercepting the ball and preventing the runner from taking more bases.
Teammates have seen him dig into his preparation with new hitting coach Turner Ward and focus in his at-bats early this season in a way he didn't in 2014 or '15. Opposing pitchers feasted on Puig the past couple of years by repeating the same pattern: Get ahead in the count, then coax him to chase pitches out of the zone, which he did time and again. For teammates, it was like watching a sibling ignore his chores of taking out the trash every day. Puig had 94 plate appearances in 2015 in which he fell into a 1-2 count (one ball, two strikes), and thereafter he batted .187 with three walks and three extra-base hits, whiffing in almost 40 percent of his at-bats.
In Monday's opener, Puig fell behind in the count 1-2 in two plate appearances -- and drew a walk and clubbed a triple. On Tuesday, the same thing happened: a walk and a triple after he fell to a 1-2 count. In the first two games of the 2016 season, Puig almost matched his entire walk and extra-base production on that count for all of last year.
His teammates see him working hard; they see the effort; they see the change. There are more tests to come, for him and them. He must handle his early success. He must handle failure. He must continue to show up on time, keep putting in his work.
But it's a start, a good start. Yasiel Puig has had a great spring, says his manager.