Don Mattingly addresses Joc Pederson’s critics.

HOUSTON — In choosing Kiké Hernandez over Joc Pederson as the Dodgers’ center fielder today, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went out of his way to address Pederson’s critics, specifically two who are employed as analysts for major league teams.

Earlier this month, Phillies color analyst Larry Andersen blasted Pederson during a broadcast for being “selfish.” In July, Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez took aim at Pederson’s “worthless batting practice.”

“He is a worker, even though there’s been — I’ve heard in different cities that he’s not trying to make adjustments,” Mattingly said. “That’s just not the case. They’re uninformed.

“He’s trying to hit the ball the other way. You see him trying to stay shorter. It’s not his fault that he’s trying to go the other way and is hitting balls out of the ballpark. That’s just what happens with his swing. I think that’s been a little bit unfair on him because he’s a good kid. We don’t have any problems with that part of it.”

Kiké Hernandez, not Joc Pederson, is the Dodgers’ primary center fielder for now.

Kiké Hernandez

Dodgers center fielder Kiké Hernandez has a .957 OPS in August. (Associated Press photo)

HOUSTON — One day after Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson was benched against Scott Kazmir, a left-handed pitcher, he was out of the lineup again with right-hander Lance McCullers starting for the Houston Astros.

Kiké Hernandez has started both games instead, and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Hernandez is the Dodgers’ primary center fielder for now:
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Joc Pederson sits against a left-handed starter, which could become a trend.

Joc Pederson

Joc Pederson has struggled to hit left-handed pitching in his rookie season. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

HOUSTON — Joc Pederson isn’t in the Dodgers’ starting lineup Saturday against the Houston Astros and left-handed starter Scott Kazmir. Kiké Hernandez is playing center field and batting seventh.

Pederson has struggled to hit for average against all pitchers this season. Against left-handers, the struggles have extended to his on-base percentage (.305) and power (.349 slugging average).

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly all but conceded that Hernandez will start against left-handers for now.
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