While some people have been wondering if the struggles at the plate have left Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson worrying about his job, the answer from new manager Dave Roberts might shock you. If you are to believe Roberts, then Pederson is going to be the team’s starter in center going into the season. And he should be.
Even despite his struggles in the second half of the 2015 season, Pederson still supplied solid defense and the ability to walk at a good clip. He was, if you really want to go down that road, the center field version of former slugger Adam Dunn. It was a walk, strikeout, or home run. The three true outcomes.
“He told me that I was his guy,” said Pederson. “He just wanted me to be myself. He knew in the offseason I worked hard on the things I learned last year.”
It’s a fantastic thing to see the new manager endorse one of the young players on the team. It gives that player confidence and the belief that the coaching staff is firmly behind them and not trying to undermine anything that they do. Despite other options being on the roster, Pederson appears to be “the guy” for Roberts and the Dodgers.
Players, especially young players, struggle mightily early in their careers. Not everyone is Mike Trout and can take baseball by storm right off the bat and keep it churning through the years. There has to be an adjustment period. Pederson got his late last year, and he’s trying to learn and grow for it.
With Roberts supporting Pederson, and with the hard work that Joc has put in this offseason, you can start to see the makings of a center fielder who now has more confidence going into this season than he ended last season with, and that’s all you’re looking to see right now.