Joc provides pop with pearls: 'It looks good'

Braves outfielder homers in win vs. Mets, continues to bring energy to team

October 3rd, 2021

ATLANTA -- Joc Pederson has been described as a carefree, comical teammate who can keep a clubhouse loose, much like Josh Donaldson did during his days in Atlanta. But Pederson likely now stands as the only Braves player to homer with a pearl necklace around his neck.

Pederson continued to gear up for the postseason when he homered during a two-run third inning that propelled the Braves toward a 6-5 win over the Mets on Saturday night at Truist Park.

“There’s not much behind [the pearl necklace],” Pederson said. “I like it. It looks good.”

Pederson was first spotted wearing the pearl necklace on Thursday, when the Braves clinched their fourth consecutive National League East title. It will now likely be a storyline that exists for however long Atlanta remains in the postseason.

“It wasn’t something that was supposed to get this much media attention,” Pederson said. “It’s just something that I like. It’s getting blown way out of proportion.”

Pederson has moved to a backup role since initially serving as a starting outfielder after being acquired from the Cubs on July 15. But Freddie Freeman and other Braves players have repeatedly lauded the veteran outfielder for the playful and competitive attitude he has brought to the clubhouse on a daily basis.

Club executives took notice when Pederson arrived, when the Braves were still two weeks from their first winning record, and immediately began talking about what the team would do during the postseason.

“Joc came in here and made an immediate impact,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s been a big postseason player.”

Being part of the postseason is really all Pederson has known. He spent the previous seven seasons with the Dodgers, who won the NL West each of those years. The 29-year-old outfielder has totaled nine postseason homers, including one against the Braves during last year’s NL Championship Series.

Pederson will likely serve as the Braves’ top left-handed pinch-hitting option this postseason, and he could draw a start or two against some right-handers.

Asked if he had seen a player homer while wearing a pearl necklace before, Snitker quickly responded, “The one thing I haven’t seen is somebody walk out of their shoes.”

Pederson’s spikes separated from his left shoe as he was batting in the first inning. As he returned to the clubhouse to get a new pair, he drew some ribbing from his teammates, who were once again amused.

Here are a few other takeaways from Saturday’s game.

Freeman reaches .300
With a pair of hits -- including an RBI single in the third -- Freeman pushed his batting average back up to .300. This has been a goal for the reigning NL MVP Award winner since he spent this season’s first two months going through one of the most frustrating slumps of his life.

Freeman was hitting .224 with a .784 OPS when he entered play on June 10. Over the 100 games that have followed, he has hit an MLB-best .342 with a .962 OPS, which ranks sixth among NL players.

Snitker plans to give Freeman at least a couple at-bats in Sunday’s regular-season finale. If the first baseman finishes with a .300 average, he would join Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones, Eddie Mathews and Dale Murphy as the only players in Braves history to hit 30 homers with a .300 batting average in multiple seasons.

Chavez’s postseason role
As the Braves contemplate who will start Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Brewers, they have to think about right-hander Jesse Chavez, who recorded two strikeouts over two scoreless innings while working as an opener on Saturday.

Chavez has allowed one hit over 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the three games he has served as an opener over the past two weeks. If the 38-year-old draws the role again in the postseason, he could work a couple innings before giving way to right-hander Huascar Ynoa, who could also be asked to go through the Brewers' lineup only once.

With Ynoa featuring only two pitches (a fastball and slider), he too would likely be used as an opener if he starts Game 4.

Contreras’ improvement
William Contreras has come a long way since first serving in an everyday role earlier this season. The catcher has improved with his pitch-blocking skills and continues to show promise with his bat.

Contreras’ tremendous athleticism was seen on Friday night, when he raced down the third-base line to grab an errant throw. He slid along the grass and simultaneously made an accurate throw to third.

After catching the coaching staff’s attention with that play, Contreras homered during Saturday’s fourth inning. The 23-year-old has certainly improved since being sent back to Triple-A Gwinnett on Aug. 24. He returned to the Majors on Sept. 10 after Stephen Vogt went on the injured list.

“He's looked really good in the games that he's caught here,” Sntiker said. “He's maturing and slowing the game down. He’s more confident in himself, and he's done a really good job.”