Yasiel Puig better late than never for his return to L.A.

Slugger misses ring presentation from Dodger owner
Posted at 12:38 AM, Apr 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-16 05:07:38-04

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig was 70 minutes late arriving to Dodger Stadium Monday and missed getting his NL Championship ring from the Dodgers owner.

Puig also kept local media waiting for a scheduled news conference before his first game in L.A. since being traded to the Reds in the offseason.

It marked a return of some of the familiar Puig antics that infuriated team officials during his six years with the Dodgers, but Puig dismissed it.

“He can send the ring to my locker or give it to me at batting practice. He can give it to me in person, I don’t care,” Puig said.

Despite Puig's absence, Dodgers owner Mark Walter and manager Dave Roberts presented rings to three other Dodger ex-patriots - Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer - during an informal gathering outside the visitors’ clubhouse. They were joined by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and team president Stan Kasten.

“Just the six of us sharing some stories, saying hello and more so us thanking them for what they did to help us accomplish what we accomplished last year and wishing them well,” Roberts said.

Roberts chuckled when asked if he was happy to be on the other team now when Puig’s name comes up.

“Yeah, I am happy,” he said, smiling.

Roberts said he and Puig “are good,” and they’ve been in touch via text message and a phone call during spring training.

“This guy did a lot of things in the community and helped the Dodgers do a lot of good things,” the manager said. “When he’s motivated and incentivized, he’s a very good player.”

Puig was popular with Dodgers fans for his colorful personality, home-run trots and ability to throw out runners from right field. He made headlines away from the field when his Los Angeles home was burglarized multiple times.

At the ballpark, he was benched at times and the team considered trading him long before it did because of his perceived lack of hustle or interest in following orders.

When he finally sat down for the news conference, Puig took questions in English and Spanish for several minutes before Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen suddenly appeared from behind a wall of TV cameras to greet Puig with a hug.

“Papi,” Puig said as the former teammates embraced.

Reds manager David Bell said Puig has “absolutely” been punctual with his new team.

“But that wouldn’t be the first thing I would talk about,” Bell said. “It would be more about the way he has played the game and the teammate he has been. He has been outstanding. We love having him here.”

Puig was part of a seven-player deal with Cincinnati in December that included Kemp, Wood and Farmer.