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Yasiel Puig Struggling To Rediscover Early Season Magic

Yasiel Puig has cooled down after a strong first half but perhaps off-the-field news can lift his spirits as the Dodgers head towards the postseason.

Yasiel Puig

With his mind perhaps now more at ease, Yasiel Puig and the L.A. Dodgers are hoping he can get back to being the dynamo he prides himself on being.

The L.A. Times reports a South Florida man has been arrested for his role in the 2012 smuggling caper and subsequent extortion plot that brought arguably Major League Baseball’s most excitable player to the States and the masses from his native Cuba.

Courts document reveal Gilberto Suarez was allegedly one of several Miami-based men to aid in financing Puig’s $250,000 boat trip, eventually leading the effusive 23-year to the world of MLB stardom and a seven-year, $42 million contract.

But with that, Suarez and others allegedly only sought harder to cash in on their extortion plot to receive a “sizeable percentage” of Puig’s newfound riches and the weight of it all has undoubtedly burdened him to no end.

Puig is hitting .290 with 13 home runs and 60 runs batted in for the Dodgers this season, credible numbers indeed, but hardly what was projected of him coming into the season. As judgment day in the Suarez case has grown nearer, Puig’s struggles have become even more pronounced. He’s hit only .209 since the end of July and has driven in just one run in his last 18 games.

As of late, manager Don Mattingly has tried everything from moving Puig down in the lineup to batting him leadoff, all in an effort to jumpstart his late season push. But Yasiel Puig being Yasiel Puig, nothing figures to ease his mind and spirit like the news of the last several days.

Puig was at his free-swinging, free-wheeling best in May, hitting .398 with a 1.223 OPS, 11 HRs, and 40 RBIs. Perhaps with the weight of his Cuban excursion now again somewhat lifted from his shoulders, the Dodgers can only hope for a return to his earlier brilliance.

“The biggest thing is we need him,” Mattingly told MLB.com. “There’s always stuff going on with different guys, but Yasiel basically got us to this point and everything we’ve tried to do so far is to try and get him going, take the pressure off, the same we’d do for anybody.”

But Yasiel Puig isn’t just any player. And as the postseason draws closer, the Dodgers know their fortunes could well rest in their ability to bring out the best side of him.

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