Cubs outfielder Pederson feels like he's close to breaking slump
Several Cubs regulars began to show signs of life at the plate last week, but newcomer Joc Pederson is still lagging behind, with a .146 average after striking out in the second inning of Tuesday's game against the Mets.
Before the game, the former Dodgers outfielder spoke to reporters on a Zoom call about his slow start with the Cubs.
"Kind of hit me by surprise, especially the way I was feeling during spring," Pederson said. "It's a long season. It's not how you start. It's easier said than done, but I've been grinding with our hitting coaches and stuff and just getting back to the basics of what's made me successful. Probably about three or four days ago, I started to feel really good, hit some balls on the barrel."
Pederson led the majors with 8 home runs in the spring, so it seemed like he would be ready for a great debut after signing with the Cubs as a free agent. He said it was no consolation that every Cubs hitter started slowly.
"No, I think that honestly makes it worse," he said. "I think hitting's contagious. I think you saw Willy (Contreras) start us off and we kind of started clicking right behind that. You build off each other, never want to see your teammates struggle. We've got a good thing going. (Anthony) Rizzo's really swinging the bat well, (David) Bote, Javy (Baez), KB (Kris Bryant).
"So a lot of good things are happening. I know it was hard to watch the first two weeks and it's a lot harder on us not performing out there. The team's so talented, some special things can happen."
Pederson pointed to a couple of instances already in his career when he was able to recover from a poor performance. Last year, he hit .190 in the shortened season, then hit .382 with 2 home runs in the playoffs as the Dodgers won the World Series.
"There's light at the end of the tunnel," he said. "I was able to perform well in the playoffs after struggling a little bit. I got sent down in 2017, and would have been the World Series MVP a month later (had the Dodgers beat Houston).
"So I'm not too worried about not coming out of it. I know I'm a really good baseball player, so I'm not going to let 30 at-bats -- as frustrating and as much as it makes you feel you've never picked up a bat -- dictate how I feel about myself as a baseball player."