Puig arrives late for Dodger Stadium return, then homers

Field Level Media

April 16, 2019 at 2:40 am.

It didn’t take Yasiel Puig long to steal the show on his return to Dodger Stadium — off the field and on it.

After failing to show for an informal ring ceremony and arriving more than an hour late to his news conference with local media, the Cincinnati Reds outfielder greeted Clayton Kershaw with a 405-foot, two-run home run in the top of the first inning in his former teammate’s first start of the season on Monday night.

With the count 1-2, Puig blasted an 87 mph slider over the center field fence.

Some fans at Dodger Stadium had greeted the longtime Dodgers star with a standing ovation as he stepped into the batter’s box.

With the Reds in town for the start of a three-game series, Dodgers management scheduled an informal ceremony hours before first pitch to present National League Championship Series rings to a quartet of former Dodgers: Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer and Puig.

Problem was, only three of the players showed up to the gathering in front of the Reds’ clubhouse.

“Just the six of us sharing some stories, saying hello and more so us thanking them for what they did to help us accomplish what we accomplished last year and wishing them well,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters about the gathering, which included team owner Mark Walter.

Once he did show up — 70 minutes late to a scheduled news conference with local media — Puig fielded questions in English and Spanish.

“He can send the ring to my locker or give it to me at batting practice. He can give it to me in person, I don’t care,” Puig said when asked about missing the ring ceremony.

He also gave a big hug to Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen when his former teammate crashed the news conference, calling Jansen “Papi” before they embraced.

When asked whether he was happy that Puig is no longer on his team when he hears his former outfielder’s name come up, Roberts joked, “Yeah, I am happy,” before addressing where things stand between the two.

After saying the two “are good,” Roberts offered, “This guy did a lot of things in the community and helped the Dodgers do a lot of good things.”

As for Puig’s punctuality, Reds manager David Bell said it has not been an issue at all.

“That wouldn’t be the first thing I would talk about,” Bell told reporters of Puig’s timeliness and attendance. “It would be more about the way he has played the game and the teammate he has been. He has been outstanding. We love having him here.”

Puig, Kemp, Wood and Farmer were part of a seven-player trade between the two clubs in December.

Puig and Kemp batted third and fourth, respectively, in the Reds’ lineup Monday, with Farmer batting eighth.

Kershaw made his season debut after rehabbing from shoulder inflammation he experienced in spring training.