When Joc Pederson was breaking into the Majors, he was part of a Los Angeles Dodgers outfield that included a veteran, but still productive, Andre Ethier. After being teammates for parts of four seasons, Ethier retired after 2017.
Although their time together on the field came to an end, Ethier and Pederson have remained close. Ethier returned to Dodger Stadium last year to be recognized in an on-field retirement ceremony, and he used that opportunity to poke fun at Pederson.
He surmised if his former understudy could have success in today’s MLB, there was still hope to return. Now Ethier can take some claim to Pederson’s recent hot streak.
He visited with the team when the Dodgers concluded their road trip in Arizona over the weekend, during which time Ethier gifted a bat of his to Pederson.
That has since been used to hit a game-winning home run against the Diamondbacks in the 11th inning, which marked the start of a streak that saw Pederson produce six consecutive extra-base hits.
Included in that was a multi-homer game Wednesday that saw the Dodgers break the National League record with 250 home runs. “We’ve been texting back and forth a little bit,” Pederson told DodgerBlue.com when asked if he’d heard from Ethier since going on the torrid stretch.
“I told him everyone says you better send another couple bats out. I’m all in for it. The bat is feeling good, so I’m going to keep using it. Hopefully get stocked up with a few more just in case it breaks.”
Since his pinch-hit appearance in the series finale at Chase Field, Pederson is 6-for-7 with one double, five home runs and nine RBI. His 32 homers shattered a previous career high (26 in 2015) and an .872 on-base plus slugging percentage would also represent a personal best mark.
While the use of Ethier’s bat has garnered plenty of attention, Pederson is largely succeeding behind a commitment to keeping with mechanics. “I think that’s where consistency comes from, is a routine,” Pederson said.
“Stick to your routine, there’s going to be some ups and downs and some struggles but that’s just part of it. It’s easier said than done but just continue to work at it. I’m seeing the ball well, taking good swings at pitches I can handle and hitting some balls off the barrel. That’s always a good sign.”
That has caught the attention of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who compared Pederson’s recent success to the level Cody Bellinger was at earlier this year. “Joc is a guy that’s streaky. Sometimes you’ve got to sort of ride the lows out when he’s trying to find it,” Roberts said.
“These last 10 or 12 at-bats, he’s really been locked in, using the big part of the field — right-center field — and staying in the strike zone. When they make a mistake out over the plate it’s a homer. Just confidence you see building.”
Of course, Roberts had also caught wind of Ethier’s contributions. “I guess they say it’s not the arrow, it’s the Indian,” Roberts joked. “But in this case it’s a little combo. So a little ode to ‘Dre.”