And then there's Dickerson, a career .255 hitter in the Minor Leagues who had never hit more than 13 homers in a season. Called up by the Cincinnati Reds last year to take the place of perennial 40-homer man Adam Dunn, who was traded to Arizona, Dickerson surprised a lot of seasoned baseball people.
Dickerson hit .304 with six homers and 15 RBIs after an Aug. 12 callup and now is projected to start for the Reds in left field in 2009.
"Taking that experience and mind-set into this year, it's almost like having a head start," Dickerson said recently. "You know what works, what approach you had and what it took to be successful at this level."
Dickerson isn't the only one who feels that way. His manager, Dusty Baker, was impressed with what he saw in the late stages of the season and thinks the playing time will prove to be extremely valuable for the young player.
"The fact that you did it, your confidence level rises," Baker said. "You think you belong here. He's always had the ability. Everybody was trying to figure out when he was going to put it together. When you look at him, you think, 'What took you so long?' It doesn't matter when you get it. The key is to get it and get it in time."
Dickerson is competing with several veteran outfielders for the job, but when he's asked how he feels about his chances, his answer could speak for all of the second-half wonders of 2008 who find themselves on the map in 2009.
"What's the point in coming out if you don't feel like you're going to win the spot?" Dickerson said.
"I don't come out here to sit on the bench."
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Chris Dickerson gets some love on MLB.com.