Yasiel Puig promises to model himself after Jeter

On the Dodgers home opening day, just after he had once again gotten in the team’s dog house, Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig was confronted in…
Yasiel Puig promises to model himself after Jeter

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig poses for a photograph during photo day for the baseball team Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

On the Dodgers home opening day, just after he had once again gotten in the team’s dog house, Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig was confronted in a private meeting by manager Don Mattingly.

Puig promised he would change, with Mattingly asking who he would like to model himself after in this transformation.

“Derek Jeter,” said Puig.

SEE ALSO: How long will the Yasiel Puig soap opera play with the Dodgers?

Mattingly, a former New York Yankee model player like Jeter has been his entire career, must have struggled not to laugh.

“Well,” the manager told his troublesome 23-year-old star, “at least, we now have something to shoot for.”

Puig now has a goal, unrealistic as it may seem, but it has given the Los Angeles Dodgers a glimmer of hope that he won’t be the player who destroys the team this season the same way he was the spark of their turnaround last year.

And, of course, with the season in its infancy it is still way too early to tell, and the Dodger brass undoubtedly is holding its collective breath, even as it puts its best public relation face on the latest debacle of their $42 million investment.

On opening day last Friday, with more than 63,000 fans about to fill Dodger Stadium, Yasiel Puig was a no-show for batting practice, arriving late, even as his family showed up to see him play.

His excuse was that he “didn’t know” the players’ arrival time was moved up because of pre-game ceremonies, but he took full responsibility and said he was “truly sorry.”

It sounded good, but the Dodgers and baseball have been there before with Puig, his showing antics on the field, his base-running gaffes, his reckless driving arrests.

SEE ALSO: Will this be the year of the Cuban ballplayer?

Mattingly had little choice but to bench Puig, scratching him from the starting lineup, as it became a big story — while the game was being played — on Twitter and the Web, as word spread around the stadium, among the media and even the players.

The dread rivals, the San Francisco Giants, jumped off to a 6-0 first inning lead and by the second inning, as the Dodgers trailed, 8-0, legendary broadcaster Vin Scully was laughing at the absurdity and recounting for his audience the history of how foul balls came to be the possession of fans.

Yasiel Puig saga continues

And the Puig opening weekend saga had just begun.

On Saturday, in front of a national TV audience, Puig foolishly dove into first base trying to outrun an infield grounder and hurt himself.

He became the story again as the Dodgers lost another game.

Yasiel Puig was effectively benched again Sunday, sent for an MRI on what Mattingly described as a “pretty swollen” thumb that was found to have a strained ligament.

But on Sunday, the Dodgers won their first home victory, as Puig sat in the Dodger dugout for most of the game with a brace on his left thumb.

SEE ALSO: Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers will soon want their share of the gold

Puig is not on the Disabled List but considered day-to-day and possibly ready to pinch hit Tuesday when the Dodgers resume play.

Meanwhile, there are some Yankee fans who wonder if Yasiel Puig shouldn’t acquaint himself with another Yankee name: Wally Pipp.

He was the first baseman who took a day off, complaining of a headache, and never got his job back because it gave an opportunity to a player named Lou Gehrig.

When Puig was benched, former star Matt Kemp got the start, dusted off the dust and then, getting another start Sunday, slugged two home runs, his first dinger at Dodger Stadium since 2012.