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Klee: Hollywood's summer blockbuster? It's Yasiel Puig - get your tickets

By Paul Klee Published: July 3, 2013 0

DENVER - We are on to you, Yasiel Puig.

We see what you are doing here. You are trying to take over baseball.

We saw that batting-practice home run Tuesday, your unforgettable debut at Coors Field. We saw the violent swing that should be illegal in thin air, how the ball just kept going, and going, and going, until it finally landed past center field under the cheap seats of the Rockpile.

Estimated distance: 470-480 feet. We saw Troy Tulowitzki emerge from the Rockies clubhouse simply to watch your practice swings. We saw Matt Kemp, another All-Star, just shake his head.

Then we saw the 451-foot home run during the game - an opposite-field moonshot off real, live, major-league pitching - the longest home run by a Dodger this season.

We know your type, Puig.

We just don't see it very often. Maybe three or four times in a generation, if we're lucky.

This is Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl. This is LeBron James in a, yes, much-smaller sample size. This is Tiger Woods on the tee with a 2-iron; the thump on contact is different, along with the trajectory of the ball.

This is an athlete so startlingly good, we're not sure what to make of him.

Know this, for sure: Puig is trying his hardest to blow us away.

There's nothing effortless about his batting swing. Puig swings so hard, the only explanation is he's absolutely trying to launch a baseball into the Rockpile.

Puig happens. This week Puig is happening at 5,280 feet.

Here's another sign of a next-level athlete: even his mistakes are entertaining.

In his first inning at Coors Field, the Dodgers rookie misjudged a fly ball in right field and turned a routine out into a sliding catch.

Textbook? Hardly. Great entertainment? Puig is the biggest summer blockbuster in Hollywood, worth every penny of admission.

Puig doesn't wear a ball cap to protect against the sun. He's protecting the sun by wearing a ball cap. Puig would be a Chuck Norris joke, but pitchers don't think he's funny.

"Big, dynamic player," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

In his first 100 major-league at-bats, Puig got a hit 44 times. Only Joe DiMaggio was better.

In his first 100 breaths as a newborn, Puig breathed life into 44 dying kittens. Only the Humane Society is better.

On Wednesday, Puig was named NL player and rookie of the month. Through his first 28 games, he was batting .443. The NFL wants to name him player of the month, too, but it's not football season and Puig doesn't play football.

We see how you feel about first base, Puig. You loathe it.

Again in the first inning Tuesday, he reached first base on a single. Puig promptly tried to steal second and was thrown out.

In his next at-bat, Puig skipped the stealing part. He ripped a double off the wall.

"When you keep throwing up three hits every day, you put yourself in the lineup," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

The Dodgers are protecting Puig as if he were a 6-foot-3, 235-pound jewel. And he is. Puig has a personal security detail. His current rampage reminds of Johnny Manziel's sudden Heisman eruption, complete with a fast life off the field that adds a bad-boy element to the allure.

Baseball is slow; Puig plays in fast forward. Apparently, he does everything at top speed, which explains his arrest for speeding and reckless driving in April.

There are generational athletes who are bigger than their chosen game. Watching a rare talent like Puig is like seeing a Pac-12 football recruit playing six-man football at Hanover High.

It doesn't take a scout's eye to see the obvious: Puig is better than everyone else. Right now, at least. Maybe with a hint of jealousy, his peers claim the game will catch up to him.

"I don't think he's going to hit .430 for the rest of his career," Rockies pitcher Roy Oswalt said.

The veteran was right about the rookie, of course, but only after the rookie had a single, double and home run in his Coors Field debut - a triple shy of the cycle.

Puig avoids media like he avoids staying on first base. One friendly note: No one holds a grudge longer than baseball media. Be their friend, and they will continue to write nice things after this historic rookie run is over.

Question is, when will it be over?

"I think once guys get to know him a little better, it's going to be a little tougher on him, just like anybody," Oswalt said.

There's a misconception Puig is seeing the Rocky Mountains this week for the first time. That's not entirely true.

The Rocky Mountains are seeing Puig for the first time.

-

Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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