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"I’d seen Manny play and knew what he could do," said Mattingly, then a Dodgers coach. "But this cat is a different animal. The more you see it the more you believe it."
Puig’s talent and the lift he’s given to the injury-riddled Dodgers remind some of Angels star Mike Trout and Washington pitcher Bryce Harper, whose breakout seasons boosted their teams.
With center fielder Matt Kemp and left fielder Carl Crawford on the disabled list, the Dodgers called up Puig from Double-A Chattanooga on June 3. Mattingly put him in right field and had him batting leadoff.
Puig turned heads with an amazing throw in the ninth inning of his first game. He caught the ball near the wall and fired a line drive to first base that doubled off the startled runner to end the game with a double play in a 2-1 victory.
The next night, Puig hit two home runs in a 9-7 win. He came down to Earth last Wednesday with an 0 for 4 night that included two strikeouts. But he bounced back the following night with the grand slam, inducing Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who’s seen plenty of remarkable feats, to proclaim, "I don’t believe it!"
Puig became just the third player since 1900 with three homers in his first four career games, according to information provided to the Dodgers by Elias Sports Bureau.
Oh yeah, he homered again last Friday.
Puig’s ability to speak English is limited, and Mattingly was asked how he communicates with the rookie during games.
"I don’t have to communicate, just kind of go," Mattingly said, smiling and putting his hands together in a clapping gesture.
Puig’s exploits last week drew four curtain calls. Actor and fellow Cuban Andy Garcia came to check him out. The Dodgers rushed T-shirts and jerseys with his No. 66 into production and had them for sale late last week.
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