Joc eyes even-year World Series title

March 18th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Five months after Joc Pederson was drafted by the Dodgers in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of Palo Alto High School, the Giants won their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco. Pederson’s loyalties had shifted to his new employer by then, but he still tagged along when his friends attended the parade down Market Street.

Now that he’s officially joined his hometown team on a one-year, $6 million deal, Pederson is hoping he’ll be able to take part in another Giants parade and earn his third consecutive ring after winning back-to-back World Series with the Dodgers and Braves.

“I did grow up in the Bay Area,” Pederson said after reporting to Scottsdale Stadium on Thursday. “I do know that it’s 2022, and it’s an even year. I’m taking an educated guess that we’ve got a good chance to win the World Series.”

Pederson, 29, already looks at home with the Giants, the team he watched while growing up on the peninsula. He attended the final game at Candlestick Park in 1999, though his favorite memory happened during his senior year of high school, when former Giants coach Shawon Dunston snuck Pederson into the then-AT&T Park clubhouse before a game.

Pederson, who played with Dunston’s son, Shawon Jr., walked in and rubbed elbows with several big leaguers, including Bengie Molina and Pablo Sandoval, who gifted him a pair of batting gloves.

“I came in and Bengie was eating an ice cream sandwich like an hour before the game,” Pederson recalled. “I was like, 'Man, the big leagues is the best!'”

In San Francisco, Pederson reunites with president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who was the Dodgers’ general manager during Pederson’s All-Star rookie season in 2015.

“I go way back with him,” Zaidi said. “I’m very fond of him personally. Him being from the Bay Area and having that connection, it’s just cool to see him in a Giants uniform today. That’s just from a personal standpoint. From a roster standpoint, he really fits us well. The way [Gabe Kapler] manages the roster and tries to match up, obviously, he’s been one of the best power hitters against righties his whole career at the big league level.”

Pederson will likely slide into a similar role as former Giants slugger Alex Dickerson, who typically started in left field against right-handed pitching last season. Pederson batted .238/.310/.422 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs over 137 games between the Cubs and Braves in 2021, but he has a career .832 OPS against righties and should bring plenty of postseason experience and flair -- including his trademark pearls -- to San Francisco.

“It’s pretty surreal to get to come play for a team that I grew up watching,” Pederson said. “I’m really excited. It’s a great group of guys. Obviously, Farhan and Gabe have built an unbelievable culture and environment here that’s adapting to all personalities, and makes people feel comfortable and brings the best out of each individual. You can definitely see it from the outside looking in, so I definitely want to be a part of it and do whatever we can to help win another World Series here.”

Webb to start Cactus League opener
Right-hander Logan Webb will start the Giants’ Cactus League opener against the Cubs on Friday night at Scottsdale Stadium. Webb, unsurprisingly, is now lined up to start on Opening Day on April 8, but Kapler said he isn’t ready to reveal his pitching plans for the regular season yet.

Webb is expected to throw two innings and will be followed by eight non-roster invitees: Bryan Brickhouse, Raynel Espinal, Luis Ortiz, Gray Fenter, Nick Avila, Solomon Bates, Patrick Ruotolo and Juan Moreno.

Schedule changes
MLB released its revised updated 2022 schedule on Wednesday, rescheduling seven Giants games to make up for the two series against the Padres and the Brewers that were postponed as a result of the delayed start to the regular season. The Giants will now play at San Diego on July 7 and end their season with a three-game series there from Oct. 3-5. They will also make two trips to Milwaukee on April 25 and Sept. 8, the latter of which is a doubleheader.

The schedule tweaks aren’t ideal for the Giants, as it will cost the team three previously scheduled off-days and make it difficult to manage workloads during long stretches of play.

“It's a big deal,” Kapler said. “I think we're going to be up for the challenge. We also start at home. We have our first games at home, and that's an advantage. As much as it is going to be challenging to deal with that first road trip, we also get to have a few series at home first.”