Even before Joc Pederson made his major league debut last September, expectations were sky-high: As one of the top prospects in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ organization, it seemed all but certain he’d push his way into an already crowded outfield – and push one of the team’s established stars out of town.
Turns out, that was exactly what happened; in December, the Dodgers traded Matt Kemp to San Diego, clearing the way for Pederson to play despite logging just 28 career at-bats. But the 23-year-old centerfielder didn’t shrink from the spotlight – he started strong, clubbing 13 home runs and driving in 24 runs over the season’s first two months. And as summer began, Pederson kept swinging a big stick, earning a starting spot in the All-Star Game and thrilling fans in the MLB Home Run Derby.
Still, Pederson will be the first to admit that his first full campaign is still very much a work in progress, but as he adjusts to the rigors of MLB’s 162-game slog (and tries to cut down on those strikeouts), he’s beginning to settle in to his big league routine. On Thursday, as the Dodgers prepared for a four-game series with the New York Mets, Young Joc spoke with Rolling Stone about eating breakfast with Adrian Gonzalez, getting advice from E-40 and loving life in Dodger Blue.
So how’s your morning been in New York?
I woke up too early; I think my alarm went off at 10:20 a.m., normally on the road I’d still be sleeping right now. I usually wake up around 11 or 12ish.
I would imagine having a routine is essential during the course of the season. When you’re on the road, what’s yours like?
Well, like I said, I like to sleep in if I can, and Andre Ethier, he’s played everywhere and he’s really into food, so I’ll text him to figure out a good spot to eat breakfast. I usually get to the field early, and Mark McGwire gets there really early, so I’ll get my hitting in before a lot of other people. And then you hang out and have a good time with your teammates. We play this dice game, where you try to get to 100. You have two dice, and say you get a 6 and a 4, so you have 10 points. If you roll doubles, it’s worth double points, but if you roll doubles, you have to roll again, and if you roll three doubles in a row, you have to go back to zero. Basically you don’t want to roll snake eyes or a 7, and I roll a lot of snake eyes [laughs]. It gets crazy; I’ll be at, like, 98, then I’ll roll snake eyes and go back to zero. I have bad luck with that game. Justin Turner’s, like, the dice champion of the locker room.
You mentioned breakfast; I’m wondering, when you’re out with your teammates, who picks up the check?
I went with [Scott] Van Slyke the other day, and we got to play credit card roulette, and that was cool. Adrian Gonzalez, I go with him a lot, and I always ask him to let me pay but he never lets it happen. It’s kind of awkward at times. He’s done so much for me that I really want to pay – it would be nice to buy one breakfast or something.
You recently retweeted some sage advice from E-40, are you a fan?
Yeah, being from the Bay Area, E-40 is rad. You can’t go wrong with Drake or Lil Wayne or Fetty Wap either, but my sister is the one who tells me what to listen to. At the field there’s a sound system, and usually Van Slyke holds down the music. It’s usually him or Justin Turner, and we get a little bit of everything – Frank Sinatra makes an appearance if it’s an early game – then an hour before the game it changes and they’re playing “Intoxicated,” all these crazy songs to get you fired up. During BP it’s country; you get everything. And then after games, when we win, we’ve been doing this rave thing, at home it’s crazy; the lights are off, there’s a fog machine and strobe lights, disco sticks and loud, loud music.