CINCINNATI -- New Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig wasn't going to let subzero temperatures keep him from warming up to his new city. The Cuba native and Los Angeles resident was busy Wednesday getting to know his surroundings."It's not that cold. It's all mental, you know," Puig said. "If you put
CINCINNATI -- New Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig wasn't going to let subzero temperatures keep him from warming up to his new city. The Cuba native and Los Angeles resident was busy Wednesday getting to know his surroundings.
"It's not that cold. It's all mental, you know," Puig said. "If you put it in your [mind], it's going to be cold, bro. People say this is the most cold in all of history, but I'll be fine. It's not going to be like that during the season."
Puig, who was acquired in a seven-player trade with the Dodgers in December, was in Cincinnati to look for a place to live and stopped for a tour of Great American Ball Park. He met CEO Bob Castellini and much of the front office, and the 28-year-old even made phone calls to sell season tickets to fans and went to City Hall to meet Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.
The day was capped by a visit to the P&G MLB Urban Youth Academy to speak to kids and answer their questions.
Puig initially had mixed emotions after he was traded along with Matt Kemp, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer for Homer Bailey and two prospects.
"I'm happy and not happy," Puig said. "I'm in the middle both ways because of six years with the Dodgers, I loved the city. I loved the team. I loved my fans. That's who I'm going to miss the most. But coming to a new city, a new team, I know this city is about baseball, the Big Red Machine. I hope we can be something like that, a little bit closer to that."
The Reds have not been to the playoffs since 2013 and have endured four straight 90-plus-loss seasons. Puig is hopeful that he and the team can end that drought.
"That's what everybody in the city is looking for now. We don't want to finish in September," Puig said. "We want to go into October. I've been with one team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, for six years and six years straight, I've been in the playoffs. I hope this is not the year I'm going to be out in October. I've come here to bring this team to the playoffs again. I will do the best I can, and my teammates will do the best they can, too."
He batted .267/.327/.494 with 23 home runs and 63 RBIs last season and slugged 108 homers over six seasons in Los Angeles. Puig said he didn't expect to seek clearing the fences even more in a cozier home ballpark and that he wants to hit line drives to all fields.
One of the familiar faces Puig will have in Cincinnati is Turner Ward, who was hired away from the Dodgers to be the hitting coach. Puig was thrilled that he gets to continue working with Ward.
"We are like a family. I talk to him a lot," Puig said. "He's helped me a lot to be a better person, a better baseball player. He's family. We talk every time. His wife loves me. All his sons and his daughter and his whole family, we talk and we have good days when we're together in Los Angeles. When we fly to different cities, we go shopping together. We eat together. This is a good relationship with Turner."
Defensively, Puig has spent most of his time in right field, where he has one of the best throwing arms in baseball. However, the Reds have a need in center field, and Puig does have some experience there. He would be open to playing center field again.
"I'm going to be prepared for my manager and my team if they need me in center field, right field," he said. "No matter what, I want to be in the lineup every day and do the best I can to help my team to win."
Puig plans on keeping his outgoing personality with his new club. That includes licking his bat when he feels the need to spark some hits.
"There's something good and I miss it, I lick my bat, or I try to talk to my bat like, 'Hey, if you can give me something good right in this moment.' He listens to me -- I believe so -- and the next pitch, I hit a home run or I [help] my team winning. That's a reason I do lick the bat, but I don't like it."
Puig has frequently been caught on camera teasing and kissing Ward in the dugout after big hits. Will that also continue?
"I need to hit first," Puig replied. "If I don't hit, I'm not going to kiss Turner Ward."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.