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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.
Normally it would be the CF ball, but it just seemed that Kemp had a beat on it, and while he was waving his hand, he didn’t appear to be yelling I got it. Even with all that, Kemp still had the ball go off his glove as Puig did back off enough for Kemp to make a clean catch.
We can bitch and moan all we want about the pen last night, and they did do a tight rope act until the inevitable. but if that ball is caught, the Dodgers probably win last night.
Yup….it’s that kind of mistake which will cost you a playoff game and possibly a series. But I didn’t think Puig backed off at all rather just stood in the way.
Unfortunate is a very kind word to use. Would Tommy have used that same word?
I was always under the understanding that what ever ball the center fielder can get at is his. He’s the captain out there. But I think you’re right, he should call for it. I’m sure we’ll find out what happened.
That play last week where Puig and Gordon got tangled up was Puig’s ball. This is not anyone’s fault. It happens.