SAN FRANCISCO — The drought has gone on too long for Joc Pederson’s liking. He hasn’t played a homer since June 25, a span that grew to 32 games on Sunday. He ditched his old background music and ordered a new shipment of bats.
“I haven’t hit a home run in a (expletive) year,” Pederson said. “I have to figure out how to strike again.”
Out: ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” a pick suggested by a few team staffers earlier this season.
In: A Rotating Playlist of a Few Songs, which Pederson says also had no role in the selection.
“You just have to have a new feeling, change it up a bit,” he said. “Just get something new that feels good and ride that wave.”
The Europop ballad preceded all of Pederson’s at-bats on his three-home run night. He followed him to the All-Star Game, after earning the second selection of his career with 17 homers in the first half.
But that’s where that number has stayed since: 17. At one point earlier this season, Pederson was in contention for the National League lead in long pitches. Now, 16-year-old Wilmer Flores is hot on his heels in his own team.
It might seem like a year for Pederson, as he’s only had one longer homer streak in his seven years as a major leaguer.
After homering on Opening Day in 2017, Pederson went the next 32 games without leaving the court, a streak he will top with his next homer game this season. The following year, 2018, Pederson went 37 games from April 22 to June 1 without a home run, the longest dry streak of his career.
The next day, Pederson ended that streak in spectacular fashion: a two-home run game at Coors Field, the home-run paradise that happens to be the Giants’ next stop after four games with the Arizona Diamondbacks to end that stand. home.
How does Pederson plan to get out of this funk?
In addition to changing his music, he summons the powers of one of baseball’s most prolific hitters: Pete Alonso. Pederson has a preponderance for trying different bats. “I couldn’t even tell you,” he replied when asked how many different designs he’s used this season. A baseball stadium? “Seven,” he said.
Pederson lost his favorite wood to the collapse when the Giants traded catcher Curt Casali, the clubhouse’s most obnoxious bat owner, according to Pederson.
“It’s almost time (to find a new one),” Pederson said.
Now he has a shipment of Alonso’s model on the way.
The Mets connection in the Giants clubhouse begins with JD Davis, who arrived as one of four players San Francisco received for Darin Ruf. But, in reality, it felt more like a five-for-one deal. Davis also brought along one of Alonso’s Dovetail-branded sandpaper-finished birch bats, which immediately caught Pederson’s eye.
Before making formal introductions on Davis’ first day in San Francisco, Pederson approached his locker, picked up the bat and curled his knuckles against the barrel. Again and again.
His finds? “Tough” and “strong,” Pederson said.
“It was the first time I really met Joc,” Davis said. “I’ve had dozens of teammates come in and do the same sort of thing, so I’m not weird or I don’t think it’s abnormal.”
Manager Gabe Kapler didn’t have any Pederson-like anti-slump techniques, but he was used to trying his teammates’ bats. He used the same adjectives as Pederson to describe the most desirable finds: tough and loud.
“If they really like the sound of a particularly hard bat, they’ll keep it in their locker and put it away,” Kapler said. “When I say sound, guys clap the bat with their palm and listen for the ringtone. If it was just the right pitch, it would be a bat you would cling to.
Just like Pederson, except he used his knuckles rather than his palm.
“It was just nice,” Pederson said.
The two-tone bat – 34 inches long, weighing 31 ounces, a natural-colored grip and a dark brown body – has yet to make its debut in the game. It has changed homes, from Davis’s locker to Pederson’s .
Among its unique features is an oversized oblong handle that was custom-made for Alonso’s large hands. The model Davis brought is also a bit smaller than Alonso’s log swings, which check in at 32.5 ounces. Its rough finish, contrasting with the typically smooth bat, is intended to generate more backspin on the ball, Davis explained.
“I don’t really like the handle on it. I like the finish,” Davis said. “I think it’s a nice finish for the stick. It has helped a lot of guys.