The Los Angeles Dodgers retained several key free agents this past offseason, but saw the likes of Kiké Hernandez and Joc Pederson sign elsewhere as they sought bigger roles.
After a seven seasons in L.A., Pederson joined the Chicago Cubs on a one-year contract. He essentially replaced Kyle Schwarber, who was non-tendered earlier in the winter. With the Dodgers and Cubs meeting for a three-game series at Wrigley Field this week, Pederson had an opportunity to catch up with some of his former teammates.
“I’ve known Joc a long time and was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him,” Justin Turner said. “His personality and makeup, he shows up and is the same guy all the time. Always laughing, smiling, pretty lighthearted.
“He was just a good guy to have around to keep everyone kind of loose.”
During his time with the Dodgers, Pederson was one of the team’s better home run hitters. He slugged 130 over his seven seasons in L.A. — many of which came with a celebration.
“The home run celebrations were always good,” Turner recalled. “Even when they were fence scrappers, he celebrated like they were going 500 feet. No one enjoys hitting a homer more than Joc.”
Pederson then perfectly embodied that with a bat drop and celebration on what he believed was a walk-off home run against Kenley Jansen. Instead, wind relegated it to just a game-tying sacrifice fly.
Pederson’s stint with the Cubs hasn’t gone smoothly thus far, but Turner is confident his best days are still ahead of him. “The sky is the limit with him,” Turner said of Pederson.
“I think he is an offensive force, he’s got a ton of power, he can go from foul pole to foul pole, and he can give you a quality at-bat.
“When he locks it in he’s probably one of the toughest outs I’ve ever played with in a playoff setting. He definitely has it in there. When he locks it in he’s a dangerous hitter.”
Roberts reflects on friendship with Cubs manager David Ross
Another member of the Cubs with ties to the Dodgers is manager David Ross, who spent the first three seasons of his playing career with the storied franchise.
He was teammates with fellow skipper Dave Roberts during that time, as the two developed a friendship and still remain close to this day.
“I never would’ve thought or imagined people calling him ‘Poppa Ross,’ ‘Poppa Rosy’ or whatever they call him. ‘Grandpa Rossy,’” Roberts jokingly said.
“I knew him as a kid and he was always enthusiastic, energetic, positive and a big sponge. The veterans — Adrian Beltre, Shawn Green and myself — we really took him under our wing and in baseball terms, kind of raised him.
“Just to see how he’s evolved as a ballplayer, as a manager, as a celebrity on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ the guy has a book out. It’s just crazy all the things that he’s accomplished. I’m just really excited and happy for him.”
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