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Joc Pederson chose to wear the No. 24 with the Chicago Cubs as a tribute to Kobe Bryant.
The Chicago Cubs had a quiet winter, especially when you compare it to the offseason the rival St. Louis Cardinals had. Perhaps their biggest signing of the Hot Stove season was former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, who agreed to terms on a one-year, $7 million contract.
Through his career, Pederson wore the numbers 65 and 31 as a member of the Dodgers. But when he joined the Cubs, 31 was no longer available due to it being retired in honor of Greg Maddux and Ferguson Jenkins. Pederson opted to wear number 24 to pay tribute to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
You can catch Pederson’s full comments in the video below, via MLB.com Cubs reporter Jordan Bastian:
Pederson records first home run in a Cubs uniform
Pederson did mention that he met Bryant a number of times while he was a member of the Dodgers. During their meetings, the outfielder said Bryant had “eye opening” discussions about basketball and the details that went into practice.
In Wednesday’s spring training game against the Seattle Mariners, Pederson hit a two-run homer off pitcher Ljay Newsome batting cleanup. That was not only Pederson’s first home run in a Cubs uniform, but it was the teams’ first of the spring!
Pederson is coming off a down 2020 season with the Dodgers, as he slashed .190/.285/.397 while recording seven home runs and 16 RBI in 43 games. But, the outfielder redeemed himself in the postseason, where he emerged as a World Series champion. In 16 playoff games, Pederson recorded a .382 batting average, a .991 OPS, two home runs and eight RBI.
Let the record show that when Pederson had to pick a new number with the Cubs, the decision to wear 24 was “a no-brainer,” because it allowed him to honor the late, great Kobe Bryant.