LOS ANGELES – Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig smiled and shook his head vigorously from side to side when someone asked him whether he will ever tone down his style of play after a series of critical comments came out of a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week.
"That's my game," Puig said Thursday. "I'm going to play my baseball the way I play. We don't like the way [Gerardo] Parra plays or the way Montero plays, but we don't go to the press or anybody and talk about how we don't like it, because we're more reserved."
Puig's teammates rallied to his defense Thursday.
"He just gets attacked for no reason. He's a great kid," second baseman Mark Ellis told ESPNLosAngeles.com. "All he's done is come in here and make our team better. So what if he rubs the opponents the wrong way? I don't care. He's on my team. I couldn't care less if somebody from our division rival doesn't like what he does.
"Then, to have people run with it like they do and make things up about him -- that players in our clubhouse are jealous of him -- is a joke."
Earlier Thursday, Puig brushed off a question about "playing with arrogance," saying he plays the way he does for the fans.
"I learned to play that way as a kid," Puig said. "I always like to play aggressive and always try to put on a show for the fans. They [the fans] come to spend their time and lose sleep watching us play. It is one, to me, of the more emotional things in baseball."
Puig, reticent to talk to the media since being called up to the majors on June 3, spoke to ESPN in Spanish during a live interview with anchor Max Bretos, who translated both his questions to Puig, and Puig's answers to the audience.
Puig also said he wasn't bothered not to be selected to the National League All-Star team in fan voting for the final spot, which went to Atlanta's Freddie Freeman. Puig had been the subject of much debate on whether a player with only 142 career at-bats in six weeks in the big leagues deserved an All-Star spot.
"Everyone has their own opinion," Puig said during the interview. "Only they would know why they say I should not be in the All-Star Game. But that depends on the fan voting and whatever God has planned for me."
After the voting was released, he thanked fans in English and Spanish on Twitter.
Muchas gracias de todo corazon. Thank you from bottom my heart. Quiero agradecer a la mejor fanaticada del mundo. Thanks best fans in world!
— yasielpuig (@YasielPuig) July 11, 2013
Puig, hitting .394 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs heading into Thursday night's game against Colorado, also addressed criticism that he was less than cordial to former Arizona star and fellow Cuban Luis Gonzalez during a brief meeting with the former World Series MVP earlier this week.
"Yes, I did get to meet him in Arizona," Puig said. "I was with my hitting coach [Mark] McGwire. He presented him [Gonzalez] to me. I don't know why those reports have come out. They are going to try and fix the problem today or in the upcoming days.
"I did greet him. If they keep saying those things, I can't do anything about it. My thing is to play baseball and not worry what the press says."
Puig got into a small spat with Montero after running into the Diamondbacks' catcher while trying to score a run. Montero wagged his finger at Puig, and said after the game: "Does he have talent? Of course. It'd be really bad if he wasted it doing the stupid things he's doing.''
Puig flipped his bat after a single and after a walk in the Arizona series. The Dodgers swept Arizona to cut their division lead to 1½ games. Kennedy had hit Puig in the nose with a pitch on June 11, prompting the Dodgers to hit Montero and sparking a pair of scuffles that resulted in multiple fines and suspensions.
"He has a different flair. Not everybody is an average guy out there," Ellis said. "Nobody would watch baseball if everybody was like me. You need guys like him that are entertaining."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Puig's perceived arrogance was not "a baseball problem," and insisted Puig is popular in the Dodgers' clubhouse.
"These guys would fight for him, and I think you're seeing that," Mattingly said.
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon was used in this report.