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04/11/09 1:49 PM ET
Dickerson itching to get busy
Southpaw starters, inclement weather team up on outfielder
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The bandage above Reds left fielder Chris Dickerson's right eye was covering a pretty sizeable bump. Was he hit in the face by a ball during batting practice? No. Was it from a fight? Not exactly. Dickerson's attacker struck Saturday morning as he headed to Great American Ball Park. The lurking evil was a revolving glass door at the downtown hotel where he is staying. He apparently banged his head on the door as it swung around. "My 'real' story is I hit my head on the rim during a celebrity slam dunk contest," Dickerson joked. "They do need to do something about that door. It's a deathtrap waiting to happen. I can only imagine what happens with people less coordinated than me. I'm a little clumsy, but a pretty coordinated guy. I should be able to fly through that thing easy. I struggle with it every day." Some first week of the season this has turned out to be for Dickerson. The lefty half of a left-field platoon with Jerry Hairston Jr., Dickerson hasn't played much, going 1-for-4 with two walks in the Reds' three games entering Saturday. The Reds have faced three left-handed pitchers, including Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm on Saturday. Dickerson was supposed to start against right-hander Jeff Karstens on Friday, Dickerson's 27th birthday, but the game was rained out. "[I] don't play [on my] birthday, and then [I] get beat up by the door at the hotel," Dickerson said. "[We face] three lefties and [have] a rainout. As we would say, 'Hang with 'em.'" The idle time has come on the heels of a productive Spring Training, where Dickerson cemented his roster spot by batting .323 with two homers, six RBIs and six steals. He led the club with 62 at-bats, 20 hits and 29 total bases. "It's one of those things," Dickerson said. "I guess I will be patient, stay prepared and keep doing business as usual. I will keep coming in and [hitting] and be ready to come in any time during the game, once the lefty is out." Friday would have been the first time Reds manager Dusty Baker could have fielded his regular lineup vs. a right-handed pitcher. "I've got plenty of time to use it. It's OK," Baker said. "I'm just glad I have some interchangeable parts, where I can swap some guys if I need to with other guys the way things are working. Rarely are you three games into a season, and everyone has played. It's kind of how we designed it, if we needed it. It keeps guys sharp and cuts the edge off the first couple of at-bats to start the season. More things good than bad can happen." As he broke out last season following his big league debut in August, Dickerson batted .304 overall in 31 games. A knock on him has been his production vs. lefty pitchers, but he batted a respectable .286 (6-for-21) against the southpaws. Dickerson understands his role, but wouldn't mind more chances to show what he can do against left-handed pitching. "I thought I did pretty well with it towards the end of Spring Training, once I got into the groove," Dickerson said. "Early, I struggled against lefties because I didn't want to get into bad habits against them. It's almost like I was trying to be too conservative. Once you start swinging well, things open up for you. "I'd love the opportunity. I don't think I'd disappoint, but I don't want to be that guy who's always starting against a right-hander. Then, when you do face a lefty, it's 'Oh geez, this is a terrible matchup.'" Once Dickerson shows the Reds he can conquer lefties, maybe he can take another run at overpowering out-of-control revolving doors.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.