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By Jon Weisman
The costly (though thankfully not injurious) mishap between Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in the third inning Monday belied the smooth communication the Dodgers have had in the outfield since Puig became their center fielder.
Though casual observers might naturally assume, based on the stereotypical fears about Puig’s style of play, that Kemp and Carl Crawford have been playing DodgePuig for the past two months, Monday’s misplay was as unusual as it was harmful to the final score.
In the immediate aftermath, there was considerable debate over who was at fault. Watching the play live and then numerous times on replay, I see two players both approaching the ball at fairly similar speeds — it was in the air long enough to be caught by either. (It’s not as if Kemp is at a standstill and Puig arrives like a freight train.)
Fundamentally, this is the center fielder’s ball if he wants it. So the only question in my mind is whether Puig called for it or not. If he did, then it’s his — if he doesn’t, then he needs to get out of Kemp’s way. Puig didn’t give a demonstrative hand signal the way Kemp did, but whether Puig called for it verbally, I don’t know. The play might have been as simple as Puig calling for the ball and Kemp not hearing him, though Puig isn’t exactly volume-challenged.
Whatever went wrong, hopefully it will be addressed and corrected. It was an unfortunate play, and hopefully it’ll remain as unusual as it was.