LOS ANGELES — You don’t know Puig.
For all his bat-flipping, chest-thumping, tongue-wagging antics there is another side to Dodgers star outfielder Yasiel Puig, a player who has grown up under the watchful eye of manager Dave Roberts, who has not been afraid to discipline Puig when needed.
Puig, who owns a .414/.533/1.250 slash line this postseason, is ready to take his show to the World Series — the biggest stage of all — beginning Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium against the Astros.
Puig is pumped. Don’t be shocked that if on his way to the ballpark one day Puig makes an unannounced baseball stop.
This is the side of Yasiel Puig not many people know.
“If he sees kids playing baseball, he’ll just jump out of his car and start playing Little League baseball,’’ Lon Rosen, Dodgers executive vice president and chief marketing officer, told The Post. “He does it all the time.’’
Remember, the weather is always perfect here so games go on throughout the year.
Rosen is a longtime friend and business associate of Magic Johnson, so he knows athletic charisma when he sees it and Puig has that special connection with fans and especially children.
When Puig is asked how many times he has stopped to play baseball with kids he smiled and told me, “A lot of times.’’
Puig also will just show up at hospitals unannounced to visit children.
“I feel for those kids and I just want to hang out with them and tell them to keep fighting,’’ he said.
Puig, 26, is doing more to sell the game than is publicly known. There is much more to the Puig Experience than meets the showboat eye.
He is a modern-day Willie Mays. Instead of playing stickball in Harlem with youngsters, Puig is bouncing around a Little League field playing catch or pitching batting practice somewhere in the L.A. area. This also harkens back to the days of Babe Ruth stopping at a sandlot game.
What does the experience do for Puig?
“I love baseball so much I want to show it to others, pass it on,’’ Puig said. “In my heart it means so much. It takes me back to when I was a little child, when I had no glove, no bat, playing baseball in Cuba, and older players would come and help me.’’
Puig has taken it one step further than just showing up at a practice. He recently took over sponsorship of a youth team that desperately needed help.
What is the name of that team now?
“The Wild Horse 66ers,’’ No. 66 said with pride. “I like that name.’’
Introducing @yasielpuig’s adopted youth baseball team! For the 2018 season, these youngsters will be sponsored by the @wildhorsefdn 🐴👦🏻👦🏽👦🏼👦🏾⚾️ Today they got to meet Yasiel (thank you, @dodgers @karla_danielle86) and will attend the game courtesy of #YPWildHorseChildrensFdn 📸: @dodgers @suebaaby
A post shared by YP’s Wild Horse Children’s Fdn (@wildhorsefdn) on Sep 27, 2017 at 4:35pm PDT
He sure does. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Puig is the Wild Horse. That is the style, his personality, the name of his foundation, a wild horse that will not be tamed. He has plans for his youth team to play in the tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park.
There is much more to Puig than meets the eye. If Puig continues to have the postseason he is having, the Dodgers will be world champions for the first time since 1988.
Roberts has Puig playing at the top of his game.
“He lets me have fun,’’ Puig said.
Imagine that, having fun playing baseball. There is a limit to having fun and Puig is learning not to cross that line.
“Sometimes when I do the wrong thing, he puts me on the bench,’’ Puig said of Roberts. “I like that. The next day I come in and play better and that is credit to him.’’
Puig will continue to be Puig. He is not the Tame Horse.
“I’m never going to be in control,’’ Puig said with a smile. “I will do my things in the game, people like that, and that is the reason I play better. I will wag my tongue, my bat flips, everything I do, having fun and enjoying the game.’’
The self-expression lifts Puig’s game and lifts the Dodgers.
“I’m going to do my best to try to bring the trophy to Los Angeles,’’ he said. “The city has been waiting 29 years, 2017 is the year for us.’’
It is the year of the Wild Horse.