Yasiel Puig hits first home run of KBO career
Kiwoom Heroes slugger Yasiel Puig went deep for the first time in his KBO career on Tuesday, hitting a long drive over the left field wall as the Heroes took on the LG Twins at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul.
Puig's home run came at the bottom of the eighth inning with the Heroes already trailing 5-3. The Twins went on to win the game 8-4.
Puig, a former major league All-Star, joined the Heroes this year on a one-year deal with $1 million.
In signing the former All-Star, Kiwoom secured probably the most famous player ever to join the Korean league, but one that came with his own problems as well.
Puig debuted in 2013 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, appearing in 104 games in his rookie season with a .319 batting average, 122 hits, 42 RBIs and 19 home runs to finish runner-up in the NL Rookie of the Year race. In his first 15 games alone, Puig had 27 hits, tying with Joe DiMaggio and Terry Pendleton for the second-most ever.
Puig went from strength-to-strength over the next few years, making the All-Star team in 2014 and hitting a career-best 28 home runs in 2017.
But issues both on and off the field — including a number of bench-clearing brawls, an arrest for reckless driving and, recently, an accusation of sexual assault — began to overshadow Puig's career. In 2018 he was transferred to the Cincinnati Reds and then on to the Cleveland Indians in 2019.
In 2020 Puig failed to sign a new major league contract, delaying his decision to see more offers and then contracting Covid-19 before a deal could be reached. This year, he opted to move to the Mexican league and the Dominican winter league but had expressed his desire to return to the majors.
His highly-anticipated arrival in Korea got off to a slow start, with the Cuban Horse batting .182 in spring training.
With three games of the regular season now under his belt, it looks like Puig isn't going to have a problem rising to the occasion — as of 10 a.m. Wednesday he is batting .333 with three hits, three runs, an RBI and a homer in 13 plate appearances.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]