Dave Roberts: Dodgers Remain Committed To Giving Joc Pederson ‘Runway’ At First Base
Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Joc Pederson makes a catch in foul territory
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

After multiple years of Joc Pederson fielding ground balls at first base during Spring Training workouts or prior to any given game during the regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have at last reached the point of trying him at the position.

In prior cases, Pederson simply explained the work aided hand-eye coordination and dismissed it as being indicative of expanding his positional flexibility. Pederson debuted at first base on June 20 after appearing as a pinch-hitter.

Though, he didn’t remain there long, as the Dodgers moved Cody Bellinger in from the outfield during a tight game against the San Francisco Giants. The decision paid off in spades as Bellinger made a superb play on a sacrifice bunt attempt to help save a 9-8 win.

Pederson followed that up by making seven consecutive starts at first base. He made 11 starts at the position over his final 15 games played before the All-Star break. There have been growing pains and moments where inexperience was evident, but the Dodgers remain undeterred.

“He’s going to be fine. It’s not a finished product but this is something that we’re committed to. His teammates understand it, we’ve all bought into it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s not all going to be good. It’s not a finished product; that’s OK.”

The experiment stems from the pending returns of Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock. Seager was officially reinstated from the 10-day injured list on Wednesday. Both are expected to be in the lineup when the Dodgers begin this weekend’s series against the Boston Red Sox.

With Pollock expected to resume his role as the starting center fielder, Pederson being able to play first base allows for Alex Verdugo to also remain in the lineup.

“Once Corey and A.J. get back after the break, then we’ll know more,” Roberts said. “This is a good runway for Joc. I trust his acumen, eagerness to learn and his ability to play the position.”

Pederson has been charged with three errors in 90 innings played at first base. That excludes some moments where a lack of familiarity also prevented an out from being recorded, but an error was not applied.

Pederson’s success will determine whether or not the Dodgers can field a lineup that includes himself, Bellinger, Verdugo and Max Muncy when facing a right-handed starter. Add Seager to the mix, and the Dodgers conceivably could boast a lineup full of left-handed batters who can slug with the best of them.