J.P. Howell Sets Record Straight On Alleged Bullying of Yasiel Puig
On Friday morning, Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times published a piece about Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher J.P. Howell and his efforts to combat bullying. One particular passage quickly became the focus of intense Internet discussion – specifically, Howell’s claims that fiery Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig was bullied in the team’s clubhouse earlier this season.
The passage in question:
Howell said he saw Yasiel Puig bullied in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, though he would not discuss who was involved, or what happened to Puig.
“The guy is such a champion,” Howell said. “He has such a big heart. Sometimes he acts like a jerk, but that is his defense mechanism. It’s not really him.
Later in the day, after talk swirled regarding the Dodgers and their ‘bullying problem’ throughout the Twittersphere, Howell spoke with MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick to clear the air. In his quotes, it becomes very clear that he did most definitely not accuse the Dodgers’ clubhouse of bullying Puig or anyone:
Dude, I don’t know how it happened…Not in the clubhouse, never by teammates,” he said. “I was asked if Puig had been bullied and I said yes, but I meant by fans and media and people on the outside that don’t know him. Never in the clubhouse. Are you kidding? People early in the season said our clubhouse wouldn’t have chemistry, and it turned out to be an awesome clubhouse — everybody got along.
In the wake of the ongoing and damaging issues between the Miami Dolphins and Richie Incognito, it’s easy to expect claims of bullying to instantly cause a furor on the Web.
Gurnick’s update includes another quote from Howell, where he explains that the Puig example was meant to illustrate to a group of preschoolers that bullying is not something that only happens to children. Howell and his wife, Heather Hennessey-Howell were speaking to the youngsters as part of their Discover Your Path program, designed to help combat bullying as a roadblock to personal success.
Howell, 30, is one of the most sought-after free agent relief pitchers on the market, after posting a 2.03 ERA in 62 appearances for the Dodgers in 2013.