CINCINNATI -- Joc Pederson said he understands why he has been demoted from being the Los Angeles Dodgers starting center fielder to sitting on the bench. Pederson figures to go at least four days without starting a game since he missed the last two in Houston and the Dodgers face left-handers in the first two games of this series against the Reds.
“We’re in a time when we need to win ballgames and put the best team out there and that’s not me right now,” Pederson said. “I can live with that.”
Pederson, 23, said he had a conversation with Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, a one-time MVP, on the last homestand that made him feel better about his struggles since the All-Star Game. Pederson is batting .163/.333/.293 since the break. He hit .230/.364/.487 before it.
“He said, ‘How you doing? I said, ‘I’m grinding,’" Pederson said. “He goes, ‘Yeah, I grind every day.’ That’s from one of the best hitters in baseball.”
Some Dodgers fans have complained about Pederson’s benching because he has managed to get on base at a high rate even while struggling to make contact. Pederson has a .413 on-base percentage in August on the strength of 20 walks, but he has picked up just five base hits.
“I think that I really struggled right before the All-Star break and right after. There were some things that were just baseball. You hit it hard, it goes at them. You strike out a lot. Some things don’t go your way,” Pederson said. “But it’s the past. It’s not a big deal. I need to continue to grow as a player.”
The Dodgers want Pederson to make swing changes in the offseason to help him make contact more consistently, but he acknowledged it’s difficult to do that during the season. The Dodgers likely would send Pederson down to Triple-A Oklahoma City now if they were more convinced Enrique Hernandez would be an everyday solution and if he weren’t the team’s best defensive center fielder.
“I’m not worried, I’m not panicked. I’m here happy and ready to help the team, whatever it is,” Pederson said. “It’s not about me.”