Puig reflects on first Japan Series experience
NAHA, Japan -- Yasiel Puig doesn't have any complaints about his experience as part of the MLB squad that competed against the Japanese national team in the Japan All-Star Series. The Dodgers outfielder said on Thursday that, "We all had a good time; we all had fun and will take away a good experience."
However, if asked, Puig would suggest a slight tweak to the format. Like many of his teammates on the squad of MLB stars, the 23-year-old played much better in Games 4 and 5 of the series -- the only MLB victories in the official five-game series -- than he did in the first three. In Puig's opinion, the guest team should have more time to work out and come together.
"They beat us those first three games when we weren't in game shape, but now a few of us are indeed in shape," Puig said before Thursday's trip finale, an exhibition game against Samurai Japan at Okinawa Cellular Stadium. "I think we should play two or three more. The tournament should be a little longer."
Puig was 0-for-7 in the first three contests, two of which saw the MLB team shut out -- including a combined no-hitter in Game 3. But the Cuban native went 5-for-9 with two doubles and two runs scored in the last two games, to finish the official series with a .313 average.
Aside from the format, Puig had only good things to say about the Japanese national team and the atmosphere for the games.
"The tournament was good, really interesting," he said. "They have good pitchers, good players and they impressed all of us.
What stood out the most to him during the series?
"All of the discipline they have," he said. "Everything is about respect, almost as if [the players] are apologizing. And the fans are great. They support their team from the first inning to the ninth. That's a nice thing."
So now that the Japan All-Star Series is over, what's next for Puig this offseason?
"Workouts, to have a better season than the one I had last year," said Puig, who hit .296 in 148 games for the Dodgers, with 16 home runs, 69 RBIs and an OPS of .863. "I need to keep working hard in order to keep growing in baseball and to get far."
Japan All-Star Series schedule
• Exhibition: MLB 8, Hanshin-Yomiuri 7 | Box
• Game No. 1: Japan 2, MLB 0 | Box
• Game No. 2: Japan 8, MLB 4 | Box
• Game No. 3: Japan 4, MLB 0 | Box
• Game No. 4: MLB 6, Japan 1 | Box
• Game No. 5: MLB 3, Japan 1 | Box