When former Dodgers outfielder Raul Mondesi watches Yasiel Puig, he is reminded of a player he knew well: Himself.
But, Mondesi added, “He’s bigger than me. He’s like 6-4, huh?”
Now the mayor of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic, the 43-year-old Mondesi was back at Dodger Stadium on Sunday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. He was also collecting used clothes for his hometown.
As Puig is today, Mondesi was a five-tool talent. The National League rookie of the year in 1994, Mondesi hit .273 with 271 home runs and 860 runs batted in over a 13-year career.
The cannon-armed Mondesi joked that he wanted Puig to catch his ceremonial first pitch, “So that I can show him how to throw the ball.”
Asked to compare Puig’s throwing arm to his, Mondesi laughed and said, “I haven’t played in 10 years, so I don’t remember what kind of arm I used to have.”
Mondesi said of the 23-year-old Puig, “He’s young. Strong like a bull. He’s going to be a great player.”
Mondesi, who expected to speak to Puig later in the day, said people had to be patient with Puig.
“He’s still young,” Mondesi said. “People make mistakes when they start playing that young.
“They have to let him develop without putting too much pressure on him. Little by little, he’ll get to where he has to get and he’ll help the team win a lot of games.”
Mondesi laughed when asked whether Puig could one day be a mayor.
“I don’t think so because he has to go back to Cuba,” Mondesi said.
Asked whether wanted to return to baseball, Mondesi replied, “On various occasions, I’ve been approached by teams about working for them as a coach or scout. But with the commitments I’ve made to my city, I can’t.”