Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who has gained a reputation for the unexpected since he burst on to the scene last season, once again surprised the baseball world with his performance in Monday night's Gillette Home Run Derby at Target Field.
Puig didn't hit a home run and was eliminated in the first round.
The Dodgers tweeted out the only logical explanation for Puig's unexpected O-for: "He is saving them for tomorrow night."
But make no mistake, Puig tried.
"I'm sorry I didn't give a better show," he said. "I thank [the fans] for voting for me. I'm so happy to be here. I can't wait for tomorrow.
"I hope to make it up to the fans tomorrow. Thank you fans for supporting me. I am so happy I'm here. It's an honor."
Puig said he tried to walk the line between swinging for the fences and staying with the approach his worked hard to refine this season.
"Like I said before, I've been working on my home runs, but you have to be careful or it can bring down your batting average and get in your head," he said. "But if that's what you are looking to do, you just look to get good pitches and hit them over the fence."
Puig's shutout was the first of its kind since Seattle's Robinson Cano did it in 2012. In a strange twist, Puig chose Cano's father, Jose, to throw to him on Monday night.
The good news? Puig knows there is room for improvement in all facets of his game. He just has to add "hitting in a Home Run Derby" to his list of things to do.
"Sometimes, I feel like I've improved, and sometimes I feel like I'm worse, especially when I'm running the bases like a crazy man," Puig said. "I need to work on that and correct it. I know those are the kind of mistakes you can't make in important games, especially not in the playoffs. I know we are working hard to make it to the World Series, and I can't make those kind of errors. I feel like I'm working on my entire game and I thank my teammates and coaches for all of the help."
Don't expect Puig's poor showing in the Home Run Derby to ruin his All-Star experience. He's too busy having fun catching up with his new friends and countrymen. Including Puig, there are five players from Cuba participating in this year's All-Star Game: the A's Yoenis Cespedes, the Reds' Aroldis Chapman and Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez from the White Sox.
Cespedes claimed Monday night's bragging rights, defending his 2013 Derby title by hitting nine home runs in the final to defeat the Reds' Todd Frazier.
"There are like seven or eight Dominicans and lot of Venezuelans and a lot of Americans here, too but I'm happy to be here with all of these Cuban players," Puig said. "Hopefully in the future there will be even more here."
Puig joins Dodgers teammates Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Dee Gordon at the All-Star Game on Tuesday. If he's truly saving his pop for the Midsummer Classic, perhaps he can make up for Monday with a run at the MVP.
Fans will help choose the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com and via Twitter in the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
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