Ever since taking the baseball world by storm last summer, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder YasielPuig has been in the spotlight. Despite his fame, he does not do many interviews. Puig typically lets his dazzling play on the field speak for him, especially as the native of Cuba continues to learn English. But he made a very special exception for the May issue of SI KIDS.
Readers from across the U.S. and Canada sent questions for Puig on SIKIDS.com, and he chose a few of his favorites to answer. From picking up a new language in the big leagues, to his unique uniform number, to his favorite hobby off the field, read on for a glimpse inside the mind of baseball's brightest new star.
Q. Who or what inspired you to play baseball? How old were you when you started playing?
— Alison, 11, Michigan and Jack, 10, Pennsylvania
A. I started playing when I was about four years old. I got the itch from visiting local neighborhood parks and watching kids play.
Q. Why do you have gloves in your back pocket when you go up to bat?
— Christian, 7, California
A. It's just a habit I picked up in Cuba when I was young. It's something that all players do for style, no other reason.
Q. What's your favorite thing about living in Los Angeles?
— Sonya, 13, New Mexico
A. The love of the fans, the beautiful city, and the support that we get. But most of all, I enjoy my visits with kids at hospitals, ball fields, and schools.
Q. How hard is it to get to the major leagues? How often did you have to train when you were a kid?
— Chris, 13, New Jersey
A. I played a lot as a kid, five or six days a week. Making the majors is difficult, it takes really hard work, but it's all about consistent effort. It's important to do well in school and to have discipline in everything that you do.
Q. What's your favorite hobby off the field?
— Miller, 9, Alabama
A. Beating up on my cousin Ramon in video games, especially FIFA soccer. I would like to challenge some of you kids to play me! I would enjoy that a lot.
Q. Have you ever gone to the San Diego Zoo? What is your favorite kind of animal?
— Caitlin, 10, Connecticut
A. I had never heard of the San Diego Zoo until I was asked the question! Now I'm aware that it's one of the biggest and most famous ones. My favorite animal is a dog. I have two English bulldogs whose names are Jeiko and Princess.
Q. Why do you wear Number 66?
— Max, 7, New York
A. I was assigned Number 66 during my first big league camp with the Dodgers, and I did well, so I kept it. I then met [former big league slugger and current Dodgers hitting coach] Mark McGwire, and he told me that 66 had also been his first number in big league camp, which gave me more reason to keep it.
Q. How are you learning English? Is it a difficult language to learn?
— Will, 13, Texas
A. Yes it's hard, I need you kids to help me! I had some classes in the minor leagues, but I'm learning mostly by interacting with my teammates.
Q. If you weren't in baseball, what would you want to do for a living?
— Isaac, 9, New York
A. I can't see myself doing anything else. This is what I always wanted to be, and God blessed me with my wish!
Photos: Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated (giant glove, batting), John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated