“I’m not sure,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio on Wednesday when asked if Puig should play in this month’s MLB All-Star Game. “Every day he does something unbelievable. He’s making more and more of a case that he’s a guy who should at least be looked at. I still think you have to earn that berth, but he’s shown if he had been up earlier he would have been a guy that everyone would have been talking about that would have been up there for sure.”
Mattingly actually has more of an issue with the All-Star Game deciding home field advantage in the World Series. He believes if it was nothing more than an exhibition game with no larger consequence that it would be easier to include a player like Puig, who just finished his first month in the majors.
“For me the All-Star Game should go back to being an exhibition so it can be something where we could have some of the best players and if something magical is going on like Yasiel Puig, you put him in it,” Mattingly said. “But the problem is they say this game matters and it changes who gets home field advantage in the World Series and to me I don’t like that.”
Puig’s first month in the majors has been historic and regardless of his inclusion in the All-Star Game later this month, Mattingly believes this is the start to a great career for the 22-year-old Cuban defector. Mattingly, however, admits he never thought the player he saw in spring training would be able to play this well for this long this early in his career.
“It’s really amazing what he does on a daily basis. The play he made last night going towards foul territory against the wall was amazing. He’s going full speed towards that wall and it’s a small cut. He catches that ball and comes up the wall like it was nothing. That was a really tough play.”
Mattingly said the combination of speed and power makes Puig such a rare talent.
“I think it’s the whole package,” Mattingly said. “Just the whole thing because speed and power were one thing on that play last night. It’s total speed going against that wall but it takes power to be able to make that cut.”
While Puig is certainly a raw talent, Mattingly believes he isn’t far from learning the little things about the game that will make him an all-time great player one day.
“When we say he’s raw it’s just the smaller techniques of the game. Stealing a base and making that crossover move a straight line. When do you go first to third and when do you not take that chance? And when we have to hit the cutoff man. All those small, little things to me turn him into a longtime superstar instead of just a great player. It puts him in the [Derek] Jeter category and guys like that.”