San Diego Padres’ outfielder Alex Dickerson has been through the wringer when it comes to the game of baseball. With a clean bill of health in 2019, the left-handed hitter is back at Petco Park and ready to contribute to his hometown team.
The life of a major leaguer is tough. Most people assume it is all pleasure and no sorrow, but that is not the case.
For Alex Dickerson, a native San Diegan, the dream of playing for his hometown team was very real. During the 2016 season, he put up a .788 OPS in 84 games at the major league level for the Padres. The left-handed hitting outfielder slugged ten homers and looked to be a vital member of the future for the franchise.
At the start of 2017, a back injury sidelined the outfielder. The problem got worse as spring progressed and eventually Dickerson elected to undergo back surgery which cost him the entire 2017 season. That was a rough time for the Poway resident, but he remained hopeful that he would return in 2018 with a vengeance.
As spring camp started in February of 2018, Alex Dickerson reported to camp with a healthy back. The strength was back in his back, but the outfielder developed a new issue. A balky elbow limited him early in camp. The arm issue lingered for Dickerson and eventually required Tommy John surgery. For Dickerson, this was a very dark time. All he wanted to do was play the game he grew up loving, but he could not physically get on the field.
The Padres brought back Dickerson on a minor league deal before the 2019 season. He showed up to camp at full strength and seemed able to put his difficulties of the past behind him. He worked his tail off to get back on the field, and the Padres decided to send the outfielder to El Paso to begin his season. “Being back in El Paso helped, as I had a comfort level there. It felt like home. The same ballpark and the same fans helped,” Dickerson stated. He was happy to be back in the game of baseball and being in the PCL around familiar coaches helped him immensely. Dickerson put up a 1.055 OPS in 24 games at the Triple-A level, and those numbers forced the Padres’ hands. They recalled him last week.
The outfielder is ecstatic to be with the major league team now. You sense that in talking to him. “I could not have drawn it up any better as far as being up here in a month. It has been a wave of emotions,” Dickerson said with a smile. Not giving up and fighting back to the major league level speaks volumes about the 29-year-old. “It was a long road. Two full years of being out of the game feels like an eternity,” Dickerson told EVT.
Getting back was not an easy task for the left-handed hitter. There are mental roadblocks and comfort levels that need to be reached before he could proclaim that he was ready for action. “The biggest hurdle was about a month before spring training of 2019. That’s when I turned everything on. That part was the hardest and gave me the most worries,” Dickerson said. He was afraid to go 100 percent, and that was just something that took time to get over. Being in the clubhouse and around teammates helped him in that regard. The mental side of the game is tough. If you have anything bothering you, it can be challenging to focus on the task at hand.
Before the game on Tuesday, Dickerson was on the field early taking soft-toss BP with hitting coach Johnny Washington. I was curious if he was working on anything in particular. “Just doing some swing maintenance. That is something I would normally do. It’s about getting out there every day and making myself feel comfortable in the box. I just need to work on taking my swings out there,” Dickerson said. He comes prepared every day and tells me that it is difficult to get his swing where he wants it to be. “Typically there are only like three weeks in a season where your swing feels great,” Dickerson said. This is a very interesting thought about his swing and how the comfort level of it can fluctuate during a baseball season.
Alex Dickerson was a Padres fan before he started playing professional baseball. He knows how special this time is for the city of San Diego. “This is the most excited I have been being a resident of San Diego. It brings chills to me. I was at the 98 World Series, and we are starting to get that vibe here,” Dickerson said intensely. The confidence on the team is high right now, and that carries over to the standings sheet. “Every night we have a good chance to win a ballgame. We may have thought that in the past, but this year is really different. After missing two years and coming into this is pretty amazing,” Dickerson said with a smile.
You learn more from failure in this game than you do from success. Dickerson has a great attitude about the whole adventure he has been on. “The only thing is that I haven’t played consistently in two years. I just wanted to go out there and have fun. I have a better perspective now. You need to take the good with the bad. Baseball is 162 games, and there are up’s and down’s,” Dickerson said with a grin.