Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers poses for a portrait during spring training photo day at Camelback Ranch on February 20, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Talk about baptism by fire.
Among the Dodgers September call-ups Monday was one Joc Pederson. The wonder kid joined the club after he torched the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Albuquerque. Pederson won the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. He reached the coveted 30-30 plateau (33 homers, 30 stolen bases). That feat being achieved in the minor leagues is like Swaggy P finding an open teammate - it almost never happens.
So, what did his new manager do to welcome the phenom to the big leagues?
Don Mattingly patted the 22-year-old on the butt, then sent him in to pinch-hit with the Dodgers down, 6-4, in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on, two outs and a guy who sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber on the mound.
Pederson ended up striking out on a 3-2, back door slider to end the game.
My takeaway from the at bat: 1) What closer, who throws 95 MPH, tries to paint the black on a full count with an off-speed pitch to a 22-year-old making his Major League debut? 2) It was a great pitch. 3) If Pederson had gone 30-30 in the bigs this year and not Triple-A, it’s ball four.
The outcome wasn’t a confidence booster but Pederson looked comfortable at the plate. He’ll be torching Major League pitching in no time. That is, if he can make the ranks of the small army that is the Dodgers outfield.
Yimi Garcia, the Dodgers No. 15 prospect , also made his debut Monday night. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowed one hit and got his first Major League strikeout when Anthony Rendon whiffed on a two-strike slider.
Garcia, a teammate of Pederson’s at Albuquerque, went 4-2 with a 3.10 ERA and five saves in Triple-A.
The Dodgers $28 million shortstop Alex Guerrero is also back with the club for the first time since the opening season series in Australia.
The 27-year-old struck out in his only at bat in that series back in March, and struck out pinch-hitting for Chris Perez Monday.
In Triple-A, Guerrero hit .329 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 65 games.