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Three in a row? With pair of WS rings, Pederson joins Giants

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Joc Pederson called a return to his hometown “surreal” and shared stories about growing up a Giants fan and officially joining the AL West champions. National in 2021 on Thursday.

Pederson stood in front of his locker and nodded to the one right next to it, labeled “Champ Pederson,” for his special needs brother. The surprise welcome for Champ is indicative of the culture established by manager Gabe Kapler and team president Farhan Zaidi that drew Pederson, a World Series ring winner with the Dodgers in 2020 and the Braves in 2021.

“It’s a great group of guys and Farhan and Gabe have created an amazing cultural environment here that is adapting to all personalities. It makes everyone feel comfortable and brings out the best in each individual,” he said.

“For people to come here on one-year deals and be successful, and even people who have been here have years of careers. You can definitely see it from the outside looking in, so I definitely wanted to be a part of that and do whatever I can to help win another World Series here,” he said.

The 29-year-old outfielder signed a one-year, $6 million deal after posting a below-average .738 OPS with the Cubs and Braves last season.

“He’s still young, and we as a group still believe in talent,” Zaidi said. “He can do things in the batter’s box that not a lot of guys at the major league level can do. … We are going to help him make the most of the ability of him.”

The familiarity is probably a strength, as Kapler was the Dodgers’ director of player development when Pederson was a minor leaguer, and Zaidi was the Dodgers’ general manager amid Pederson’s promotion to the major leagues in 2014. and a brief minor league demotion in 2018.

Breakthrough hitting is one of the left-handed hitter’s strengths, especially in recent postseasons, including three home runs for the Braves last year and a .991 OPS for the Dodgers in 2020.

“There’s a reason they say October in the postseason,” Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said.

Pederson, who wore white pearls during the Braves’ title run, is known for his feisty personality.

“He likes to have fun and joke around a little bit, but he’s also a really good baseball player, so having him in our lineup will definitely help us,” Crawford said.

During the recent matchups between the Giants and Dodgers to clear the bench, Crawford and Pederson enjoyed exchanging friendly banter.

Additionally, Pederson is familiar with third baseman Evan Longoria, and played with pitcher Alex Wood in Los Angeles.

“Anybody who’s played a little knows Joc because he’s a friendly guy,” Crawford said. “He will fit in perfectly.”

With the universal designated hitter, Pederson can DH and both corner outfield positions, according to Zaidi.

Pederson starred at Palo Alto High School, attended the Giants final game at Candlestick Park and the 2010 World Series parade, and met one of his favorite Giants, Pablo Sandoval, on an impromptu visit to the Giants clubhouse. Giants as a high school senior.

As Pederson recalled, “Panda saw me walk by and said, ‘hey kid,’ and tossed me a pair of batting gloves.”

Along with the convenience of his brother, wife, children, parents and in-laws being able to watch the games at home, Pederson was drawn to the shorter fences at Oracle Park.

“It changed drastically to be more hitter-friendly,” he said. “Obviously, coming in on a one-year deal, you want to keep adding numbers. The more numbers I put in, the better I can help the team.”

NOTES: To make room for Pederson, C Jose Godoy was placed on waivers, then claimed by the Twins… The Giants formally announced the acquisition of free agent LHP Matthew Boyd, who is rehabbing after flexor tendon surgery outside season and will spend approximately 2 1/2 months on the disabled list. … RHP Logan Webb is the scheduled starter for Friday’s Cactus League opener against the Cubs; he is expected to pitch two innings. .. Players scheduled after Webb are RHP off the roster: Brian Brickhouse, Raynel Espinal, Luis Ortiz, Gray Fenter, Nick Avila, Solomon Bates, Patrick Ruotolo and Juan Moreno.

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