GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — This much is working out for Yasiel Puig: Red is his favorite color.
Cincinnati’s new outfielder appeared in his fourth spring game Thursday, hitting a two-run homer in a 10-8 loss. It was his first home run since moving from glittering Hollywood with the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Queen City in a blockbuster deal which also sent outfielder Matt Kemp, pitcher Alex Wood and infielder Kyle Farmer to the Reds in December.
Puig has looked good on the field so far, and he’s also been himself off of it, feeling at home in a welcoming climate new manager David Bell has sought to provide.
“I had seen him play so that was my only experience with him,” Bell said of Puig. “He’s been great to have in camp. He’s happy to be here. He brings great energy to what he does every day. He’s been a good teammate. It goes for all our players — we want them to be comfortable being themselves and he certainly is and we think it’s great.
“More than anything that stands out is his energy and he is happy to be here,” Bell said. “He likes it here. He says he likes red. I think he does like red, but I think it also means he likes being here and that’s important to us.”
The Reds hired Turner Ward as hitting coach this offseason, a job he held with the Dodgers from 2016-18. Puig appeared to love working with Ward, often giving him kisses on the cheek last season in the dugout as a thank you after big hits.
“Yasiel is very flamboyant and exciting,” Ward said. “It wouldn’t matter if he was playing in a college game. He’ll be the same. It’s not going to be the city, it’s the person. The person will bring the energy and that style.
“We want them to have the freedom to do the things they do. I don’t have to act a certain way or do a certain thing. That’s where I believe David is coming from and as a staff we’re coming from. ‘Hey, be you — you is good enough.’”
Kemp, who has been traded four times, was looking forward to seeing what Puig, 28, will do with the Reds.
“I’ve known him forever,” Kemp said. “It’s fun, it’s entertaining. You get a lot of laughs out of it. He keeps everybody loose and keeps everybody wondering what he’s going to do next.”
On Monday, Puig put on a show during a 14-pitch plate appearance against the Mariners that ended in a walk. The showdown included a tongue wag, some hip shaking and a bat toss after finally drawing the free pass.
The plan is to have Puig primarily play right field, but he’ll get some time in center field this spring as well.
“We know he can do it,” Bell said. “I know he believes he can play both, which is great.”
As long as he’s in red, Puig should be happy. It’s the color of his glove as well as his new uniform.
“It’s his favorite color,” Ward said. “He is going to bring energy every day.”
Notes: RHP Sonny Gray, who has been sidelined with elbow stiffness, threw off the mound Saturday and said it was “the best day thus far.” After being acquired from the Yankees in January, he said he expects to be ready by the start of the season. “Everything’s progressing how we thought it would,” Gray said. … LHP Alex Wood is not scheduled yet for his next spring game. Bell said they wanted to give Wood time to work on things.