In 2013, Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig's lightning quick bat put his new peers on notice, as he came to America and took the Major Leagues by storm winning the NL Player and Rookie of the Month honors in his first month in the big leagues.
But it’s a new year, and in April a new Cuban masher, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, made his entrance onto the Major League stage by destroying baseballs en route to being the first American League player to win both awards his first month.
Now, Puig and Abreu, the former hermanos en brazos with the Cienfuegos of the Cuban National Series, will be on the field together once again this weekend at Dodger Stadium, but as rivals.
"It's a normal day. We're going to take it like a normal day in the past. It's good to play against friends. He's a friend of mine,” Abreu told MBL.com about playing against Puig.
As the Dodgers outfielder approaches his one-year anniversary in the majors, he continues to dominate. In May, Puig's splits .398/.492/.731 only tell half the story. The 23-year-old reached base in every game for the month and led the National League in hits (43), RBIs (25) and he tied for first in homers (8).
With every game it looks like LA got Puig at a steal for the $42 million they gave him to come play in Dodger blue.
Puig’s surge has Don Mattingly so giddy the Dodger manager proclaimed he has the best right fielder in baseball.
Abreu, who Chicago signed to a six-year $68 million contract, has cooled off a tad as of late, but his first month showed the damage he’s capable of inflicting on opposing pitchers.
In April, the 27-year-old set Major League rookie records in homers, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits.
He’s currently batting .260 with 15 home runs and 42 RBIs.
The three-game series at Chavez Ravine is not part of the World Baseball Classic but I suspect the presence of Puig and Abreu will prompt a few Cuban flags in the crowd.
It should be fun.