Notes: Joc's first Cubs blast, Davies' debut

March 4th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- Joc Pederson's first experience with Cubs fans came a decade ago, when the Dodgers invited him to a big league Spring Training game at Chicago's old home, HoHoKam Park. He was in awe of the size of the crowd for an exhibition.

In recent years, Pederson experienced the more intimidating side of the Cubs' faithful, who heckled him plenty from the bleachers at Wrigley Field. That was especially so during the multiple battles between the Dodgers and Cubs on the October stage.

They were much nicer to Pederson on Wednesday at Sloan Park, where he launched the Cubs' first home run of the spring as their new left fielder in an 8-8 tie against the Mariners.

"They were, yeah. It was cool," Pederson said with a smile. "It was cool to be out there. Cubs fans are worldwide. They're everywhere. That's special."

Pederson got Chicago's offense rolling with a towering two-run shot off Seattle righty Ljay Newsome that dropped to the grass beyond the wall in right-center field. Anthony Rizzo upped the ante in the fourth inning, when he launched a two-run shot over the right-field berm and onto the concourse.

"A lot of hard-hit balls," Pederson said of the Cubs' lineup. "Really, anyone one through nine can click you at any second. So yeah, I think it puts the pitchers under a little bit more stress. Rizzo hit some missiles today."

Davies sharp in debut

Zach Davies has studied video of Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks over the years. Given their similarities in stuff and pitch usage, Davies liked to watch how Hendricks approached teams and hitters that were coming up on his own schedule.

Now as teammates, Davies said it has already been beneficial to have conversations with Hendricks and watch the Cubs' rotation leader work in-person.

"Watching live at-bats and watching real games helps me a lot," Davies said. "It makes it a little bit easier now for me to just sit back in a dugout and watch how Kyle works and take from that."

In his Cubs debut Wednesday, Davies was sharp over two innings. He struck out two, walked one and allowed no runs or hits. The command-based righty logged 28 pitches (17 strikes) and generated three swings and misses.

"First few is just making sure mechanics and timing is right," Davies said. "Personally, I don't worry too much about the results early on."

Worth noting

• The Cubs and Mariners combined to roll three innings over in Wednesday's game, meaning the frame was ended prematurely due to pitch count. Before the game, Cubs manager David Ross said ending an inning was an "ace in the hole" that he would use if he felt it was in the best interest of the pitcher's health.

"At the end of the day, these are exhibition games," Ross said. "I understand fans' perspective of wanting to win and cheer for their group, for sure. But there's also -- we're trying to keep everybody healthy for the stuff that counts, which is the season."

• In his first season at the helm last year, Ross tried to balance his lineup as often as possible by alternating lefty and righty batters one through nine. The manager said Wednesday that he may not strictly adhere to that approach in 2021.

"I don't know if I'll still follow that formula," Ross said. "I think there is some power in splitting that up, and there's also some strategy in it that I learned about last year that I feel like can help me moving forward."

• In his Cubs debut Wednesday, veteran reliever Brandon Workman logged 24 pitches (16 strikes) with five swings and misses. The right-hander struck out two, but allowed two hits, including a two-run homer to Seattle prospect Jarred Kelenic. None of the runs were earned due to an error by Javier Báez.


"Anytime you get a player like Joc, it brings a whole new perspective. He comes from a different system that may have done different things hitting-wise. A player like him, [he's] a guy that wants to be out there every single day, a guy that's going to compete every single at-bat." -- Davies, on Pederson

Up next

Right-hander Trevor Williams, who was signed over the offseason to a one-year deal, will make his Cubs debut in Thursday's 7:05 p.m. CT game against the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz. Fans can watch the game live on MLB.TV or on MLB Network. Williams projects to be a member of Chicago's rotation.