YASIEL PUIG THE EX-DODGERS SLUGGER IS EMBRACING HIS TRADE, BUT HE'S STILL BITTER ABOUT HIS OLD TEAM'S FAILURE TO WIN IT ALL
SI: When did you know that you might be traded?
YP: They've always been talking about trading me. Now I have to do my part to show that they made a mistake, like Mike Piazza did. Now I have to train hard and prove them wrong.
SI: Based on what the Dodgers got in return, a lot of people thought it was a strange deal.
YP: Me, too. From what I've seen the last few years, [the Dodgers] haven't gotten anybody good. Every time we say we need this, this and this to reach our goal—which is the World Series, not just the playoffs, because we've been to the playoffs six years. That's nice, but we haven't won. The only thing we're getting is one more month instead of being on vacation. 'Oh, I went to the playoffs, yay.' 'What did you do?' 'Nothing.' I've been to the World Series twice but didn't win either, it's as if you did nothing.
SI: You're a free agent after this season. Have you thought about 2020?
YP: No. I want to have a better year than the ones that have happened. I have to start now with a new team in a new city with new teammates. That's how I secure my future. [The Dodgers] traded me, so now I'll go and drive in more runs than I have in my career, hit more home runs, hit for a better average, and then they're the ones who lost out on that. Cincinnati earned it and I earned it.
SI: I imagine you'll miss the city of L.A.
YP: Many Dodgers fans have written to me on Instagram and taken photos of themselves with my Reds shirt. I don't even have that yet! I was still going to workouts in Miami with Dodgers stuff. My friends are like, 'Take that off.... Why haven't the Reds sent you a bunch of stuff?'
SI: How is baseball culture different here versus, say, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
YP: Here you can't flip your bat because people get upset. If you could hit a home run every day, it wouldn't be good to bat flip. But in a game you only get four at bats, and you can strike out three or four times. It's something emotional, if your team is losing and you hit a home run, and it comes out. People think everything is an insult, but it's just because of the emotion of the moment.
SI: Like your home run in Game 4 of the World Series last fall.
YP: I hit a home run, [we were up] 4--0 going into the seventh inning, and we still lost. The whole world thinks the game's won, and we lost .... [That's why when] Boston went ahead [in Game 5] they bet everything they had to win. Instead of bringing in [Craig] Kimbrel, they brought in Chris Sale to close the game. To get two or three runs in an inning against him is impossible. So Alex Cora did the right thing: He brought in his best pitcher, and that's why they're champions. We couldn't do the same. We didn't bring in our best pitchers, and when we had our best in, we took them out or we left them in too long. That's why we lost.