Yasiel Puig was the most electrifying rookie in baseball last season, carrying the Dodgers on his broad shoulders for long stretches, and instantly becoming one of the most popular players in MLB.
Also, Puig was bullied in the clubhouse, a teammate says. Pitcher JP Howell, talking at length to the LA Times about being bullied as a youth, strangely came out and said Puig was bullied in the locker room, but wouldn’t elaborate.
Is there bullying in baseball? Howell did not hesitate to say yes.
In the clubhouse, Howell said he had no problem with the tradition of directing a rookie pitcher to carry gum and sunflower seeds to the bullpen in a little girl’s backpack. He had a huge problem, he said, with pressure in some clubhouses to party and drink late into the night.
When he broke into the major leagues, he owned one suit, a gift from his father. A veteran player — Howell would not identify him — cut up the suit and did not replace it.
“I didn’t know how to handle the situation,” Howell said. “I wish I would have. I was distracted. I was scared to be around him in the gym. If you’re intimidated by somebody because of their actions, that’s bullying.”
Howell said he saw Yasiel Puig bullied in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, though he would not discuss who was involved, or what happened to Puig.
“The guy is such a champion,” Howell said. “He has such a big heart. Sometimes he acts like a jerk, but that is his defense mechanism. It’s not really him.
“Someday, he is not going to be 22. He’s not going to be like that. I love the guy. I hope he never changes, just maybe matures.”
What’s interesting about this is that Puig is a shredded 6-foot-3, 245 pounds and one of the biggest knocks on him all season by opponents was that he was a hot-shot punk who didn’t respect the game, whatever that means.
So did Puig enter the Majors with this attitude, or was partially a product of the alleged bullying (or hazing, we don’t know) in the clubhouse? [via LA Times]
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