Former Chattanooga outfielder Yasiel Puig has been accompanied by a security detail since joining the Los Angeles Dodgers last June following his brief stint with the Class AA Lookouts.
ESPN reported Thursday that the detail was needed due to death threats Puig has received from human traffickers who helped facilitate his defection from Cuba to Mexico in 2012. Puig played 40 games with the Lookouts early last season, hitting .313 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs.
"I had no idea that any of this stuff was going on," Lookouts general manager Rich Mozingo said during Thursday night's game between the Lookouts and Jacksonville at AT&T Field. "We never heard anything from the Dodgers, and we never heard anything from Puig. It was just business as usual for us here, other than there being a $42 million guy in right field.
"We never got a single call, and this was the first I've ever heard of it."
Jacksonville thumped Chattanooga 11-4, leaving each team 5-9 entering tonight's 7:15 series finale. The Suns took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Brady Shoemaker doubled to left field to score Alfredo Silverio and extended their advantage to 3-0 in the third when Joe Benson drew a walk and Silverio hit a two-run home run to left.
Silverio played for the Lookouts in 2011, hitting .306 in 132 games, but he had his professional career sidetracked by an auto accident in the Dominican Republic in January 2012.
According to ESPN's report, Puig fled Cuba in the hands of black-market smugglers and was held against his will on an island off the Mexico coast until a rival ring performed a late-night raid to get Puig to Mexico City. Upon receiving his signing bonus of $12 million, he reportedly paid $8.4 million to the Florida group that brought him from Mexico to the United States.
Dodgers president Stan Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti did not immediately comment on the ESPN report, and Puig has refused to open up about his defection. He declined to discuss it last spring when he was with the Lookouts.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.