Three in a row? With pair of WS rings, Pederson joins Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Calling the return to his hometown “surreal,” and sharing stories of growing up as a Giants fan, Joc Pederson officially joined the 2021 NL West champions on Thursday.
Pederson stood in front of his locker, and nodded to the one right next to it, labeled “Champ Pederson,” for his special needs brother. The surprise welcome for Champ is indicative of the culture established by manager Gabe Kapler and team president Farhan Zaidi that attracted Pederson, winner of World Series rings with the Dodgers in 2020 and the Braves in 2021.
“It’s a great group of guys and Farhan and Gabe have built an unbelievable cultural environment here that is adapting to all personalities. It makes everyone feel comfortable and brings the best out of each individual,” he said.
“To have people come here on one-year deals and be successful, and even the people who have been here, have career-type years. You can definitely see it from the outside looking in, so I definitely wanted to be a part of it, and do whatever we can to help win another World Series here,” he said.
The 29-year-old outfielder signed a one-year deal for $6 million after posting a subpar .738 OPS with the Cubs and the Braves last season.
“He’s still young, and us as a group, we still really believe in the talent,” Zaidi said. “He can do things in the batter’s box that not a lot of guys in the big league level can do. … We’re going to help him get the most of out of his ability.’’
Familiarity will likely be a strength as Kapler was the Dodgers’ director of player development when Pederson was a minor leaguer, and Zaidi was the Dodgers’ general manager amid Pederson’s rise to the major leagues in 2014 and brief minor league demotion in 2018.
Clutch hitting is one of the left-handed hitter’s strengths, especially in recent postseasons, including three home runs for the Braves last year and a .991 OPS for the Dodgers in 2020.
“There’s a reason they say Joctober in the postseason,” Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said.
Pederson, who wore white pearls through the Braves’ title run, is known for his lively personality.
“He likes to have fun and goof around a little bit, but he also is a really good baseball player, so to have him in our lineup is definitely going to be a help for us,” Crawford said.
During past bench-clearing dustups between the Giants and the Dodgers, Crawford and Pederson enjoyed trading friendly quips.
Also, Pederson is familiar with third baseman Evan Longoria, and he played with pitcher Alex Wood in Los Angeles.
“Anyone who has played a little bit knows Joc because he’s a friendly guy,” Crawford said. “He’ll fit right in.’’
With the universal designated hitter, Pederson can DH and play both corner outfield positions, according to Zaidi.
Pederson starred at Palo Alto High School, attended the final Giants game at Candlestick Park and the 2010 World Series parade, and met one of his favorite Giants, Pablo Sandoval, on an impromptu visit to the Giants clubhouse as a high school senior.
As Pederson recalled, “Panda saw me walking by and said, ‘hey kid’, and he threw me a pair of batting gloves.”
Along with the convenience for his brother, wife, children, parents and in-laws to see home games, Pederson was enticed by the shorter fences at Oracle Park.
“It drastically changed to be more hitter friendly,” he said. “Obviously, coming in on a one-year deal, you want to continue to put up numbers. The more numbers I put up, the better I can help the team.’’
NOTES: To make room for Pederson, C Jose Godoy was placed on waivers, then claimed by the Twins … The Giants formally announced the acquisition of free agent LHP Matthew Boyd, who is rehabilitating after offseason flexor tendon surgery and will spend approximately 2 ½ months on the injured list. … RHP Logan Webb is the scheduled starter for Friday’s Cactus League opener against the Cubs; he is expected to toss two innings. .. The players scheduled after Webb are all non-roster RHPs: Brian Brickhouse, Raynel Espinal, Luis Ortiz, Gray Fenter, Nick Avila, Solomon Bates, Patrick Ruotolo, and Juan Moreno.
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