Puig working to ditch 'bothersome' habits, still hopes for MLB return

Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Yasiel Puig is trying to reinvent himself after not playing in 2020.

The veteran outfielder, who is now playing for Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League, admitted Tuesday he's using this time to try and revamp his reputation with big-league teams. Puig is hoping to return to the major leagues in 2021.

"The main thing for me and my agent right now is to be healthy and improve the things that bothered some people when I played," Puig said Tuesday in a video conference call, according to David Venn of MLB.com. "To give my best in the playoffs and in the big leagues in the future, if I have the opportunity in spring 2021."

The 30-year-old got into specifics about his past habits, stating he used to ignore coaches in charge of defensive positioning while playing the outfield.

"You've got to pay attention to the coaches," he said. "If they tell me to move to a certain area and the ball ends up being hit somewhere else, that's a problem with their statistics. They're the ones in charge.

"I didn't like to do it, because I'm the one in the game and I see if the batter is going to hit the ball here or not. If they decide (on the positioning), you've got to respect that. You've got to do what they say. I'm ready to play in the big leagues and leave behind the things that were bothersome."

Puig's most recent big-league season was in 2019, when he posted a .785 OPS with 24 homers and 19 stolen bases across 149 games with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians. He became a free agent that winter, but was unable to find a job even before the pandemic. After agreeing to a deal with the Atlanta Braves in July, he tested positive for COVID-19 and never joined the club.

It's been a rough go thus far for Puig at Toros. A leg injury has limited him to just five games, where he's gone 3-for-20 with seven walks, six strikeouts, and one RBI.

Puig first broke into the majors in 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he became a star despite his odd habits. The one-time All-Star is a career .277/.348/.475 hitter with 132 homers and 415 RBIs in the majors.

A November report suggested that three teams - the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros - were showing interest in Puig.

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Puig working to ditch 'bothersome' habits, still hopes for MLB return
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