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Kapler: Giants taking Joc Pederson at 1B ‘very seriously’



Courtesy of SF Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Joc Pederson, an All-Star in the outfield last year, has been taking almost all of his spring training reps at first base.

Pederson has played 21 career games at first compared to 901 in the outfield. but according to Giants manager Gabe Kapler, transitioning to the infield is not just a vanity project.

“What I’ll say is, we’re not in the business of wasting anyone’s time,” Kapler said Saturday. “His, ours. We view this as, again, we have a lot to see before we develop that confidence to where we feel like he’s going to play lots of games at first base in 2023 once the season starts. But we’ve put a lot of work into this already.”

Pederson graded out as one of the worst fielding outfielders last year, registering -11 outs above average — tied for fourth worst among players who logged at least 150 innings in the grass. The Giants are planning on having him serve primarily as a designated hitter against right-handed pitchers, but are hoping he can develop enough at first base to provide depth.

The Giants roster features just one left-handed hitting first baseman, LaMonte Wade Jr.. He’s expected to get the first crack at the position against righties, and a combination of Wilmer Flores and J.D. Davis will rotate with him.

But Wade’s 2022 season was derailed by injuries, and although Kapler said he came into camp in terrific shape both physically and mentally, having insurance behind him is valuable. That’s, if he can get up to speed, where Pederson comes in.

A wide receiver at Palo Alto High and once a strong defensive center fielder, Pederson should have the hand-eye coordination and athleticism necessary to pick up first base. Kapler said he’s already seen Pederson display some “intuitive sense” at the position.

He’ll get time at first base during Cactus League play, but Pederson still has to make progress before the Giants are comfortable with throwing him out there.

“He’s put in a lot of work into it,” Kapler said. “He put in the work into it in the offseason. Kai (Correa) has been working tirelessly with him. Alyssa (Nakken) has been working tirelessly with him. So yeah, we’re taking this very seriously.”