By Evan Webeck
SAN FRANCISCO — If there’s one thing the Giants don’t need, it’s another first baseman.
There’s Brandon Belt, of course. Wilmer Flores is next on the depth chart. Then LaMonte Wade Jr. and Tommy La Stella. Heck, the Giants subtracted one first baseman at the trade deadline — Darin Ruf — and replaced him with another, J.D. Davis.
“We’re pretty deep at first base,” acknowledged manager Gabe Kapler.
Add another name to the list: Joc Pederson.
If the Giants are so deep at first, why, then, has Pederson spent time before each of the past two games going through work at the position? Pederson has played 21 games there in his major-league career, most recently logging a single inning last season for the Cubs, but has primarily been a left fielder and designated hitter for the Giants.
“I wouldn’t read too much into it,” Kapler said. “It’s just another way for Joc to stay athletic and ready for any situation. … He’s just going out there to get some reps. I don’t think it’s leading to anything. I don’t think there’s any master plan with it. It’s not going to hurt him.”
— Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) August 17, 2022
For a situation that isn’t leading anywhere, though, Kapler seemed particularly invested.
Wearing a first baseman’s mitt, Pederson first did glove work using bench coach Kai Correa’s little red pitching machine tossing him ground balls in foul territory. Then he moved to first base, where Correa, who is also the Giants’ primary infield instructor, went over footwork while covering the bag and fed him throws.
When he was finished meeting with reporters in the Giants dugout, Kapler caught Correa and asked, “How’s Joc?” Correa responded with a thumbs up. Kapler, who most days spends time with his own first baseman’s mitt during the Giants’ infield drills, positioned himself behind Pederson and watched him for the remainder of his work.
“It’s similar to how Curt Casali used to think about it,” Kapler said, referencing the former catcher the Giants dealt to Seattle at the trade deadline. “Like, where am I on the depth chart at first base? Like, fifth or sixth, OK cool, I’ll just get some reps over there. … I think it’s in part playful. It’s not a bad thing for him to have that ability.”
Pederson, a pending free agent, could view it as a way to expand his versatility and make himself a more attractive option on the open market as his perceived value dips along with his production at the plate. Pederson hasn’t homered since June 25 and is batting .192/.281/.282 since the start of July.
Riding the second-longest homerless stretch of his career, Pederson has already changed his walk-up music and ordered a new shipment of bats to try to break out of his funk. Maybe switching up his pregame routine can help, too.
On the topic of potential first baseman trying out different positions, Kapler said the Giants are committed to getting Yermín Mercedes more looks at catcher while he is in Triple-A. Mercedes hasn’t appeared at catcher since being demoted earlier this month but Kapler said the plan is to get Mercedes behind the plate once or twice a week.
Source: Paradise Post