The 2019 season has already been one of the most difficult in Bruce Bochy’s tenure with the Giants, so the manager never takes a positive development for granted.
He’s getting a kick out of new outfielder Alex Dickerson.
Dickerson arrived in the clubhouse Friday afternoon after receiving a promotion from Triple-A Sacramento and has already rewritten several lines in the San Francisco Giants’ franchise record book.
In three games with the club entering Monday’s tilt with Colorado, Dickerson owns four extra-base hits, nine RBIs and the adoration of a fan base that’s just learning about him.
Who is Alex Dickerson? Here are five things to know about the sudden star.
1. Bruce Bochy knew him as a high school player
Dickerson attended Poway High School in the San Diego area and was two years behind Bochy’s son, Brett, who appeared in seven games with the Giants from 2014-2015.
An injury during his sophomore season kept Dickerson from playing on the same varsity squad as Brett Bochy, but he said he knew the Bochy family and expressed excitement about playing for Bruce during the final season of his managerial career.
2. Dickerson won the Triple Crown in the Big Ten
Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber arrived at Indiana to play under head coach Tracy Smith immediately after Dickerson was selected in the 2011 MLB Draft by the Pirates, but Schwarber isn’t the best power hitter Indiana has seen in the last decade.
That distinction belongs to Dickerson, who swatted 24 home runs during his sophomore season in 2010 en route to winning the Big 10 Conference’s Triple Crown. The left-handed hitting outfielder hit .419 with 75 RBIs a year after earning Big 10 Freshman of the Year honors under Smith.
Schwarber never hit more than 18 home runs in a season for the Hoosiers, but he’s hit 77 more homers than Dickerson (11) in the major leagues.
3. Dickerson’s injury history is brutal
After a breakout season in 2016 in which he hit 10 home runs for the Padres, Dickerson didn’t play any professional baseball in each of the last two seasons as he underwent surgeries to repair a bulging disk in his back (2017) and a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow (2018).
Dickerson’s ascension to the major leagues was also slowed by an injury as he was limited to just 34 games in 2014 after a MRI on his sprained ankle revealed he needed surgery to remove a cyst on his heel.
Dickerson finally arrived in the big leagues as a September call-up in 2015, but he again had his playing time restricted due to a hip injury.
A Giants coach said Sunday he wasn’t surprised at all by Dickerson’s sudden emergence and that the organization knows the key to sustained success for the left fielder is staying healthy.
4. The Padres gave up on Dickerson twice
After acquiring Dickerson in a 2013 trade that sent pitcher Miles Mikolas to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Padres designated Dickerson for assignment June 5. The Padres have a crowded outfield depth chart and didn’t have room for Dickerson, who went 3-for-19 in 12 games with San Diego this season.
San Diego traded Dickerson to San Francisco on June 10 in exchange for minor league pitcher Franklin Van Gurp, a 25th-round draft pick in 2017 who owns a career 4.23 ERA in 21 career minor league games.
The decision to designate Dickerson for assignment marked the second time in the last year that San Diego had bumped him off of the club’s 40-man roster. Dickerson was initially designated for assignment in November, 2018, but was re-signed to a minor league contract within a month.
After crushing Triple-A pitching during the first month of the season, Dickerson had his contract purchased by the Padres on May 3. Limited production at the major league level and a roster crunch in the outfield forced San Diego to make another tough call on Dickerson a month later, but he’s found immediate success with another club in the same division.
5. Dickerson’s impressive start is historic
No Giants player had ever recorded more than seven RBIs in his first two games with the club, but Dickerson bypassed John Bowker’s (April 12-13, 2008) previous high with a two-run double in the third inning of Saturday’s win over the Diamondbacks.
Dickerson became the second Giants player to finish with four extra-base hits in his first two games with the club, joining Mark Wasinger (May 7, May 9, 1987) as the only other player to achieve the feat. With 12 total bases in his first two games, Dickerson set a new franchise-high and provided an immediate jolt of energy into a lineup that needed it.
Dickerson’s nine RBIs are already tied for the third-highest total on the team in the month of June as he trails only Kevin Pillar (12) and Brandon Crawford (11).