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Can Joc Pederson hack it every day? For now, anyway, he’s jump-starting Cubs environment

He’s fitting in just fine, but his career arc will be determined by what happens starting when he climbs out of the home dugout for the first time at Wrigley Field.

Joc Pederson cutting it up against the Padres in Arizona.
Joc Pederson cutting it up against the Padres in Arizona.
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Cubs left fielder Joc Pederson has been making loud noises with his bat in Cactus League play, smacking three homers and driving in seven runs over his first 14 times up.

He’s making loud noises with his car, too. Like when he saw his new manager, David Ross, crossing the street in Mesa, Arizona, to grab some to-go grub and laid on the horn.

“He scared the crap out of me,” Ross said. “He had me jump about 4,000 feet.”

Pederson has a long way to go to build the sort of relationships predecessor Kyle Schwarber enjoyed with Cubs teammates, but the 28-year-old ex-Dodger has been a quick fit and clubhouse hit.

“He’s a fun guy and he keeps things loose,” Ross said, “but he also talks baseball all the time and is working to get better just like the rest of our group. He has fit in real easily, and he’s a pleasure to have around. And when he’s playing like [this], you can just tell how comfortable he is.”

On a one-year deal, Pederson will chase the same narrative all season: that he can be an everyday player, something the lefty wasn’t in Los Angeles. There’s nothing fun and loose about that. His career arc will be determined by what happens starting when he climbs out of the home dugout for the first time at Wrigley Field.

“It just comes down to trusting and believing in what I can do on the field,” he said. “I know what type of player I am.”

Happy to have an everyday shot? Oh, sure. Happy to be out of L.A.? We’ll see. A native Californian, Pederson oozed Dodger blue. His father and brother also were drafted by the Dodgers. He became a fan favorite by making a mighty splash as a rookie All-Star. He’s a beach bum.

Right now, it’s a nice fit. It’s only March, after all. Pederson will have to make a bunch of loud noises at the plate against lefties to keep it that way.

The J-Hey way

Ross told players in a team meeting Wednesday to follow Jason Heyward’s lead on the basepaths. Heyward stole a run Tuesday after A’s first baseman Matt Olson briefly bobbled a relay throw. He wouldn’t have had a chance at the plate if he hadn’t anticipated the possibility of a chance to score.

“He does all the little things right,” Ross said. “He’s a leader in the way he prepares, in the way he carries himself, the way he speaks to others and the way he sees the game.”

Pitching in at the plate

Cubs pitchers probably won’t hit in any games until next week, but the inevitable is coming.

“A lot of them can’t wait to get back in the box, to be honest with you,” Ross said.

Like riding a bike, only really badly? It’ll be almost like that 2020 universal DH thing never happened. You can decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.


It’s a start

After a quick, decent day at the office from Alec Mills, Cubs starting pitchers have now given up 13 hits and only three runs, all earned, in 21⅓ innings. And you were worried about the team’s unsettled rotation.

A pop and a pod

Cameron Maybin got the start in left field and doubled on the day his guest appearance on teammate Ian Happ’s popular podcast, “The Compound,” dropped. The really funny thing about that? One of Happ’s co-hosts is former Cubs infield prospect Zack Short, who was traded to the Tigers for Maybin last August.

“Cam is the best teammate,” Happ said, “and I will keep saying great things about him because playing the outfield with him is my very favorite thing.”

That you, Tommy?

The Cubs got a look at old buddy Tommy La Stella in his new uniform. La Stella signed a three-year, $18.75 million deal with the Giants last month. Batting leadoff, he put three ground balls in play — one an infield single on which he advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Eric Sogard.

Cubs 43, Giants 42

That’s the real score, folks. It represents the number of years each team has been in the same Arizona city — the Cubs in Mesa, the Giants in Scottsdale — the longest such streaks in the Cactus League.

On deck

Cubs at Rockies, 2:10 p.m. Thursday, Scottsdale, Kyle Hendricks vs. Dereck Rodriguez.