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Puig's winter work is paying off

Dodgers slugger off to strong start this season
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig has been working on his swing for months, and the results have been good so far this season for the Dodgers outfielder.

Puig smacked a towering home run to left field in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Padres and finished the game 2-for-3. Puig's solo shot off San Diego starter Trevor Cahill, his first homer of the season, had a 101-mph exit velocity with a launch angle of 32 degrees and was projected to travel 385 feet, according to Statcast™.

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LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig has been working on his swing for months, and the results have been good so far this season for the Dodgers outfielder.

Puig smacked a towering home run to left field in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Padres and finished the game 2-for-3. Puig's solo shot off San Diego starter Trevor Cahill, his first homer of the season, had a 101-mph exit velocity with a launch angle of 32 degrees and was projected to travel 385 feet, according to Statcast™.

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Justin Turner and hitting coach Turner Ward have been working with Puig to refine his swing, with an emphasis on getting the ball in the air. Turner is one of the best in baseball in that regard.

"What I think about is putting the ball in the air, or else I'm going to have no money in my pocket," said Puig, who is 3-for-9 in three games this season. "I focus on bettering my self every day, working with Turner Ward every day just to better my swing, swing at the right balls."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was pleased to see some of that work pay off.

"The game today, you put the ball on the ground, we have a lot of data to gather up ground balls," Roberts said. "With Yasiel so strong, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark anywhere. If he can elevate the baseball, pretty much anywhere he's got a chance."

Puig showed patience at the plate as well, something management has emphasized, waiting for a changeup in a 1-2 count and unloading a towering shot that stayed just inside the left-field foul pole.

"Last year I was anxious because it was the end of the season and I was trying to get my hits," said Puig, who was demoted to the Minor Leagues last August. "I know this is a long season and I want my team to win. That's what's important."

Puig was able to stand and admire the flight of the ball before rounding the bases as the Dodger Stadium crowd roared to life. Cahill said he immediately knew he had made a mistake with the pitch.

"I was aiming down, and right out of the hand, I was like, 'Uh oh'," Cahill said. "I just maybe got complacent thinking it was going to go exactly where I wanted it to. I left it up, and right when it left my hand, I knew it was not going to be good."

Puig is 3-for-9 this season with a homer and a double out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup.

"I'm not used to it, but that's the position I was given, and I'm going to ask God to keep me in the lineup and I'm going to try to do my job," Puig said.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig