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Game Changers 2014: Yasiel Puig

Love him or hate him—just don’t get in his way.
Joe Pugliese / August

Built like an All-Pro running back who can go from first to third on an infield single, 23-year-old Dodgers rightfielder Yasiel Puig is the most exciting outfielder since Bo Jackson. As of this writing, Puig has swatted 19 homers in 104 games since last June. He hit two home runs in his second MLB game, and lifted the Dodgers—eight games under .500 when he was called up—to a division title. 

But transitioning from the shortseason Cuban leagues to the brutal 162-game MLB schedule requires some fine-tuning. Rather than throw around a bunch of iron in the weight room, Puig opts for a heavy-duty regimen of medicine-ball work, calisthenics, and body-weight exercises. He doesn’t need to lift like a defensive lineman (despite looking like one), but he’s monastic when it comes to fitness. 

“He’s not the guy who’s going to go in and bang out four plates on a back squat,” says Dodgers strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel.“He’s going to go in there and get himself ready to play. I’m not trying to make Yasiel Puig more powerful— unless you can show me a reason why!”

FIT FACT: Between the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Puig put on 26 pounds of muscle. “He’s got a body we can’t explain,” says McDaniel.

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