For young prospects looking to make a name for themselves in the Majors, every detail ranging from workout routines to dietary habits are of importance. Eating properly is something director of player development Gabe Kapler is quite familiar with and his knowledge is expected to be of great use for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While it may not have come by choice, Joc Pederson will likely be one of Kapler’s more attentive understudies when it comes to nutrition. After the 2014 season ended, Pederson departed for the Dominican Republic to participate in Winter Ball.
However, Pederson’s time in the Winter League was cut short (22 games) after he fell ill and flew back to the United States. According to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News Group, the illness Pederson battled was tied to being unable to digest dairy or gluten:
I had to meet a bunch of doctor specialists down here,” Pederson said Friday at a Dodgers Community Caravan stop in Northeast Los Angeles. “They told me I can’t digest gluten or dairy so I haven’t eaten gluten or dairy since, like, Thanksgiving. It’s not really a choice. I wish it was a choice.”
Given that Pederson doesn’t have any previous experience in eating under strict guidelines, he’s turning to those who carry insight:
I feel better than I did before,” Pederson said. “I’m picking (strength coach) Brandon McDaniel and (farm director) Gabe Kapler’s head about what I can eat, what are good pregame meals that are gluten- and dairy-free. Breakfast, pre-workout — it’s all new to me. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about it.”
This new diet for Pederson presents another challenge on top of him competing for the starting job in center fielder. While being more mindful of what he can eat is obstacle for Pederson to overcome, Kapler’s presence in the organization should make it easier than it likely would’ve been under previous circumstances.
In 18 games with the Dodgers last season, Pederson batted .143/.351/.143 with nine walks and 11 strikeouts in 38 plate appearances.