Yasiel Puig returned to the Chattanooga Lookouts on Monday after a week on the disabled list and a weekend in trouble.
The touted prospect for the Los Angeles Dodgers was arrested early Sunday morning on charges of speeding, reckless driving and a failure to produce insurance. According to the arrest report, the 22-year-old Cuban defector was in a BMW SUV traveling 97 mph in a 50 mph zone when he was pulled over at the 3200 block of Amnicola Highway.
The arrest occurred just two blocks from the Chattanooga Police Department.
“Certainly we’ve discussed that from a responsibility standpoint what he did was inappropriate,” Lookouts manager Jody Reed said before Monday’s doubleheader against Jackson. “He understands that, and hopefully this will be the last incident with that kind of scenario. He hasn’t been in this country long, and he’s learning a lot of lessons quickly.”
Puig, who was not made available to the media, led the Lookouts to a 3-2 win in Monday’s opener with a home run to left-center field in the fifth inning and an RBI single to right in the 11th. The result of Monday night’s second game was not available at press time.
The arrest report stated the BMW came close to a vehicle occupying the right lane and obeying the laws and that “it took blue lights and multiple siren blasts to get the driver to stop.” Puig was serving as a designated driver for a Lookouts teammate, who had to translate the conversation between Puig and the arresting officer.
“We are aware of it, and we take it seriously,” Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson said. “We will be handling discipline internally.”
The Dodgers signed Puig to a record $42 million, seven-year contract last June, which included $12 million up front. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder hit .526 with Los Angeles in big-league camp before being assigned to Class AA Chattanooga.
Puig was hitting .333 in 13 games with the Lookouts before going on the DL with a sprained thumb, but he was pulled from a contest earlier this month at Tennessee for what Reed described as a “personal matter.”
Lookouts general manager Rich Mozingo does not believe Puig’s arrest will have any effect on attendance at AT&T Field. Chattanooga entered Monday averaging more than 4,100 fans a game.
“I think you always have to be mindful of that,” Mozingo said, “but I’ve been doing this for a long time and can’t remember the last time we’ve had a player who’s had any issues at all. I don’t think it will. If this was an ongoing theme, I would absolutely be concerned about it, but the Dodgers are wonderful and their players are wonderful.
“I’m sure this was just a very isolated incident.”
Blake Smith, who plays in the outfield with Puig, does not believe the arrest will affect team chemistry.
“We love our teammates, and nothing is going to bother us,” Smith said. “I know whatever happens to me off the field stays off the field, and when I come to the field I’m ready to play. There is not a doubt in my mind that is going on with Puig.”
Puig has a court date on May 14, when the Lookouts will be playing in Pensacola.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...