LOS ANGELES — The Rays took their first look Friday at the phenom that is Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers rookie right fielder whose splash was so big he started a national debate about whether someone who reached the big leagues in early June should be allowed to play in the All-Star Game.
“He’s definitely something,” Dodgers left fielder and former Ray Carl Crawford said.
Of course, the Rays have a right fielder who’s had just as much of an impact on his squad, with a fraction of the publicity — Wil Myers.
This weekend series at Dodger Stadium is a showcase for a pair of players who could win Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues.
“I’m curious to see what (Puig) looks like in person, and I’m sure they’re curious to see Wil,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Aside from being near the top of every offensive category, both players have been credited with bringing a level of energy to the ballpark that the veterans in the clubhouse find refreshing.
“We feed off his energy. He has so much of it,” Crawford said of Puig. “He’s just an exciting player. He has all the tools. He’s one of those guys who can get everybody going just like he has so far. He’s just a fun guy to watch.”
The Dodgers were 23-32 on June 2 and manager Don Mattingly’s job was on the line when Puig was called up to the big leagues. The Dodgers are 41-17 since then and have lost only three times since the All-Star break.
“It’s been amazing to see him step in and change the whole dynamic at times,” Dodgers reliever and former Ray J.P. Howell said. “I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Puig leads all National League rookies with a .377 average. He’s also first in on-base percentage (.436) and slugging percentage (.600).
Myers leads American League rookies in hitting with a .335 average. He’s also first in on-base percentage (.386) and slugging percentage (.533).
Myers was called up June 18. Since then, he’s out-homered Puig eight to seven heading into Friday’s game and has 30 RBIs to Puig’s 15.
The Rays were two games above .500 when Myers arrived in Boston and made his big-league debut in a day/night doubleheader. They entered Friday’s game 19 games above .500.
“I think just having Wil’s production and just having his bat in the lineup makes a huge difference,” Sam Fuld said. “I think we feed off his ability and his production more than anything else. He’s not necessarily jumping over walls and throwing guys out from the warning track like Puig. He certainly has a reputation for being an energetic and exciting player. And Wil’s exciting. I think most of his excitement comes from when he makes contact with the ball. It’s loud. It’s fun to watch.”