Dodgers News: Joc Pederson Declined No. 27 Out Of Respect For Matt Kemp
Dodgers News: Joc Pederson Declined No. 27 Out Of Respect For Matt Kemp
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

After spending the 2014 season with a revolving door in center field, the widely-perceived answer to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ problem at the position was Joc Pederson.

He made his Major League debut in September 2014 once active rosters expanded, and hit .143/.351/.143 with 11 strikeouts in nine walks over 38 plate appearances in 18 games.

Pederson’s first experience in the Majors was primarily spent as a defensive replacement; he started just three games.

That figured to change entering the 2015 season as the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to the San Diego Padres, which was essentially the final step to clearing center field as Yasiel Puig moved back to right.

Pederson was locked in a position battle with Andre Ethier much of spring last year, eventually winning the starting job in center field.

Pederson spent his rookie season wearing No. 31, made iconic by 1993 National League Rookie of the Year and former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza. However, the young center fielder revealed in an interview with David Vassegh on AM 570’s Dodger Talk that he was first presented with No. 27:

“No. 31 was chosen for me. I only had a few options and they wanted to put me in No. 27. I didn’t want to step on Matt Kemp’s toes, he did a lot of great things here. I didn’t want to disrespect him or anything like that. He took me under his wing and he’s a good guy. Matt was awesome.”

Pederson added he may soon change out of No. 31, should it be retired in Piazza’s honor:

“I heard [retiring Piazza’s No. 31] may be coming soon. So, there may be another number change.”

As for on-the-field matters, Pederson has worked this offseason with Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward to rectify the issues that plagued him at the plate. The 23 year old also spoke of being more relaxed now that he understands what a full season in the Majors entails.