Intrigue of Puig tough for Dodgers to ignore

PHOENIX -- To Don Mattingly, $42 million Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig has gone from "fun to watch" to "surprising."

Whether that takes Puig onto the Opening Day roster if left fielder Carl Crawford goes on the disabled list, Mattingly still isn't saying.

"He can play, that's for sure, but that's not one of the things I'm willing to make a decision on or talk about," Mattingly said. "It's still too early."

OK, but the Dodgers' top prospect is hitting .452 after going 2-for-2 in Monday's 3-2 loss to the Brewers. He's not pull happy, he's learning to run the bases and trying to contain his aggressiveness on defense.

"He's surprised me," Mattingly said. "He struggled in Puerto Rico [Winter League], didn't play a lot of games last year [after signing]. I was excited to see him once he got some at-bats. The guy's going to be exciting on this level. He's smart, makes adjustments. He needs to play. He's rough, but he's a wild horse. He plays wild, but he's fun to watch.

"The thing I like about Puig is he doesn't swing and miss for a power guy. You don't see him miss very often. How many times have you seen him miss balls in the strike zone?"

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.