YASIEL PUIG believes he has the support from his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates and the club to help him keep his focus on baseball despite challenges off the field.
Puig returned to the starting lineup in rightfield for yesterday's series finale in San Francisco amid reports that smugglers who helped him defect from Cuba had threatened his life.
"I'm only concentrating on the season and being the best teammate and helping my teammates," Puig said, speaking in Spanish during an interview with the Associated Press yesterday morning at his locker in AT & T Park.
While Puig won't address the details specifically because of a pending legal case, he said he will focus on baseball and on helping the defending NL West champion Dodgers keep winning. He went 1-for-4 in their 2-1 victory yesterday. While he dropped a routine fly to right, he also made two nice catches on the run.
"I have great teammates who are helping support me so much this season and to focus on the season when I get to the stadium so I am comfortable," Puig said. "That way I don't start thinking about anything negative in the stadium. I'm only thinking about working on the things that are going to make me a better ballplayer."
Puig, 23, is hitting .250 with one home run and five RBI in his second major league season.
He said after the game he is committed to baseball "so those things that are happening don't torment me."
Manager Don Mattingly said he has read articles about Puig's journey and will offer support.
Court documents, part of a federal lawsuit in Miami, say smugglers who helped Puig leave Cuba on a speedboat have made death threats against him and against a Cuban boxer who says he defected with Puig. Boxer Yunior Despaigne says in an affidavit he is afraid of being harmed by the smugglers or their associates if Puig hasn't paid them money he owes.
In yesterday's game, winning pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1) went seven shutout innings to stretch his road scoreless streak to 26 innings.
In other NL games
* At San Diego, Franklin Morales (1-1) held the Padres to four hits in six innings and Colorado rallied for three runs in the seventh inning for a 3-1 victory.
* At Pittsburgh, pinch-hitter Josh Harrison's two-run homer in the seventh inning broke a tie and Andrew McCutcheon and Pedro Alvarez each homered and drove in three runs as the Pirates beat Milwaukee, 11-2.
* At Washington, Adam Wainwright (3-1) threw a two-hitter - he had a double and single himself - and St. Louis benefited from four Nationals errors in the Cardinals' 8-0 victory.
In AL games
* At Detroit, Ian Kinsler homered and drove in four runs, and the Tigers held on for a 7-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Justin Verlander (2-1) allowed three unearned runs in five innings, and the Tigers trailed 3-1 before Kinsler's three-run homer in the fifth off Danny Salazar (0-2).
* At Minneapolis, Kyle Gibson (3-0) pitched a career-high eight scoreless innings for the Twins in a 7-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays that opened a day-night doubleheader. At 31 degrees, it was the coldest start for a game in Twins history. In the nightcap, Jason Kubel's two-run single capped a six-run eighth inning in the Twins' 9-5, comeback win.
* At Arlington, Texas, Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled twice and scored two runs as the Texas Rangers beat Seattle Mariners, 8-6. Kouzmanoff, 32, is hitting .414 since being promoted from Triple A on April 9 after starting third baseman Adrian Beltre strained his left quadriceps.
* At St. Petersburg, Fla., CC Sabathia (2-2) pitched seven innings to improve to 2-7 at Tropicana Field, and Tampa Bay's Sean Rodriguez grounded into a tripleplay for the second time in his career at the New York Yankees beat the Rays, 10-2.
* At Houston, James Shields (1-2) held the Astros to four hits in eight innings as Kansas City completed a three-game sweep with a 5-1 victory.
* At Chicago, David Ross hit a tiebreaking double in the ninth inning and Boston went on to a 3-1 win over the White Sox.
* St. Louis place righthander Joe Kelly on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Kelly got hurt while trying to beat out a bunt attempt in the Cardinals' 5-1 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. He is 1-1 with a 0.59 ERA in three starts. Also, the Cardinals optioned reliever Keith Butler to Triple A Memphis and called up righthanders Eric Fornataro and Jorge Rondon.
* Police say several people suffered minor injuries when a fan threw a firework onto a walkway at the San Francisco Giants ballpark during a Dodgers-Giants game Wednesday night. Witnesses reported seeing a man in a Giants hat in the outfield bleachers throw a large firecracker into a group of people near a concession stand. At least five people reported injuries, including dizziness and temporary loss of hearing. Police arrested Paolo Pavone, 21, and booked him on suspicion of willfully discharging and possessing an explosive, and discharging a firework in a public place.
* Detroit relief pitcher Evan Reed is cooperating with police as part of an investigation into an alleged sexual assault March 30, his attorneys say. Reed, 28, has not been charged.
* First baseman Mark Teixeira (adductor muscle) could be back in the New York Yankees' lineup Sunday when he is eligible to come off the disabled list.