Puig ready to take Cincy by storm: 'I love red'

February 18th, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- New Reds outfielder has been in camp for about a week, often hitting on his own on the backfields. With the first full-squad workout taking place on Monday, Puig was able to warm up, throw and hit with his teammates.

Puig, acquired in December's seven-player trade with the Dodgers, clearly enjoys his new club.

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"Now I've met all of my teammates here in Spring Training the last couple of days and today was our first day working together," Puig said. 

"Today was an amazing day. We are having fun on the field. We're hitting in the cage. We're working out and talking about expectations as a team and working together as a family to have success for the season."

During batting practice with , , and , Puig chatted between turns as the group kept track of points while competing. Puig hit a couple of long balls that cleared the fence in left field.

Reds manager David Bell also sensed Puig's happiness and upbeat personality.

"He has a lot of energy, and he's been interacting with players, coaches, a lot of people," Bell said. "It's been great because you don't really know guys until they get here. You get to know them a little bit. He's very positive. It's been great to have him around."

Puig wraps up memorable offseason 

Puig, 28, batted .267/.327/.494 with 23 home runs and 63 RBIs over 125 games last season for the Dodgers while being worth 2.7 WAR.

Because Puig struggled vs. left-handed pitchers the past couple of seasons, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was prone to use a reverse platoon in right field. In 2018, Puig batted .209 with a .360 slugging percentage vs. left-handers, while he batted .297 with a .564 slugging against righties.

Puig admitted Roberts' decision bothered him.

"When I have opportunities like I had in the playoffs to face lefties last year, I can hit lefties and I can hit righties," Puig said. "But from the bench, you can't hit nobody. Then in the seventh inning, he wants you to be the hero. And you can't be the hero because from the beginning, he doesn't trust you to have a good game that day."

Bell has not sorted out Cincinnati's corner outfield plans, with Winker, Kemp and Schebler in the mix. Mainly a right fielder, Puig could get time in center field depending on whether top prospect Nick Senzel can earn the regular spot there.

"That's not my decision. But also, I can play every day," Puig said. "When I play every day, I can help my team win more games. I can help myself to be a better baseball player, because I'll have more opportunities to face lefties and righties -- no matter who is pitching that day."

A free agent after this season, Puig is preparing to have a big year as he forges a new life on a new team in a new city.

"I need to have my best season ever and next year have a new contract. I don't know where I'm going to be. I'm going to do the best I can this year," Puig said.

Would he be willing to stay longer?

"I don't know. You can ask the GM if he wants to sign me," Puig replied. "If he signs, gives me the money, I will be here as many years as he wants. I love Ohio. This is my color. I love red."