What's the big deal? Puig has an attitude problem? Gee, as if fans and the media hadn't heard that before.
Mattingly prattled on through the news conference, saying things such as:
•"I see good in all my players."
•"I talked to him [Puig] like I talk to my kids."
•"I prefer keeping things in-house."
To be clear, Mattingly is not a reticent quote or an uncooperative guy. This was uncharacteristic, but then, so is much about Puig.
He is exuberant, unpredictable, becoming somewhat of an annoyance to some of his teammates, and generally, a mysterious guy. The fast cars, the occasional tardiness, the hotdogging slides into home plate in a walkoff win, even the body language during a game, can wear thin — as it apparently did Wednesday. So can the number of times the organization, including teammates, can use the "boys will be boys" rationalization with him.
"We were all young here once," Ethier told The Times' Dylan Hernandez on Wednesday. "You're going to make mistakes.…You're going to have to let it take its course and let him learn for himself."
The Dodgers' investment in Puig is huge. So must be their concern.
Puig danced along to the same team tune afterward, saying he was taken out because he "was not prepared properly for some pitches." He said that once the manager talked to him, he understood the decision.
In the end, it was a mini-crisis, and by their evasiveness, the Dodgers made it seem bigger and were unsuccessful in waltzing through it.
Some unsolicited advice to the Dodgers: Great days lie ahead. Playoffs, accolades, all well-deserved.
Play baseball, not nursemaid.