Tag:Chris Dickerson
Posted on: March 15, 2011 10:22 am
Edited on: March 15, 2011 11:52 am
 

Pepper: Injury bug biting Brewers



By Matt Snyder


Whether it's Zack Greinke's rib injury, Yuniesky Betancourt's quad or Carlos Gomez's back, things generally haven't been feeling physically well at Brewers camp. They seem to have at least a minor malady for everyone on the team -- even two guys with an intercostal injury, which I didn't even know was a thing. Apparently they are muscles on the rib cage that help contract the chest.

Chris Dickerson is someone who has that issue. He hurt his Monday against the Giants, when he had an ugly collision with Pablo Sandoval. It wasn't exactly a Casey-level beatdown, but Dickerson seemed to have lost. The collision prompted a somewhat humorous/somewhat realistic quote from Randy Wolf.

"Thank God Sandoval lost 30 pounds or that might have been a decapitation," Wolf told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel . "I thought he dislocated his shoulder. It sounded bad."

Wolf later added he's afraid to walk to his car, and he may not have been kidding.

The Brewers can take solace in the fact that it's only spring and they haven't lost anyone for the season yet, like their division-mate Cardinals.

DREW'S MOOD HATS: Potential Nationals closer Drew Storen had struggled this spring, but put together a solid outing Monday. If you peered inside the brim of his hat, you'd have seen: "Down." "Precise." "Focus through the target." The youngster followed his own advice, setting the Tigers down in order in his one inning of work. Writing reminder messages in his hats isn't new for Storen, as he's already cycled through four this spring and has countless left from last year.

"It's kind of like a mood ring, it's a mood hat," he told the Washington Times . "I keep them all. Since there's so much going on, I'll be the first to admit, you get caught up in thinking about throwing things and try to do too much. It's just a nice, easy way to bring your mind back into it."

If a quirk like this seems weird, you've never been around a baseball locker room. In fact, this is relatively normal. Hey, whatever works.

STRASBURG PROGRESSING: Speaking of Nationals pitchers drafted in the first round in 2009, Stephen Strasburg is reportedly making good progress as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. He's now throwing 90 feet off flat ground and eyes a September return. As you might remember, he had the surgery last September and the normal recovery period is 12-18 months. But just because he has high expectations doesn't mean he's impatient.

"I have to no choice [but to be patient]. I can't just wake up the next morning expecting to get on the mound. It's a slow gradual process. It's about the slow steady progress. It has to take its time and let the body heal naturally." (MLB.com )

IN OR OUT? Luis Castillo might win the second base job for the Mets out of camp because they have no better options. But manager Terry Collins reportedly doesn't really want Castillo around -- only he hasn't officially said as much. Some believe the higher-ups on the Mets would rather Castillo start, but J.P. Ricciardi backs Brad Emaus. Basically, no one really knows what is going on. (ESPN New York )

BELTRE BACK:
Monday, Adrian Beltre made his spring debut, and it went off without a hitch. The third baseman -- who had been sidelined with a strained calf -- played five innings, going 1-3. His only issue had nothing to do with his calf and should be completely expected under the circumstances. "I felt a little bit rusty," he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram .

PLAY IT AGAIN, RICH: In the least surprising news of the spring, Rich Harden needs to see a doctor. He hasn't thrown a bullpen since February 15, but felt an issue in his lat muscle Sunday and it looks like he's going to be shut down again. (MLB.com ) It's sad to say, but even at age 29, it's hard to see him ever regaining form for an extended period of time. That sparkling 2008 season -- 10-2, 2.07 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 181 K in 148 innings -- will likely go down as his best. With the kind of stuff he has, when healthy, that's a shame. UPDATE: Susan Slusser reports Harden will throw Wednesday and he hasn't suffered a setback.

WHAT IF ... : MLB Trade Rumors has put together a list of what the free agent class might look like at the end of this season if no one had signed extensions. It's worth a look for entertainment purposes.

IT'S ONLY SPRING, BUT ... : ... the Diamondbacks suck. The always-great Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic points out the Snakes would have a record of 4-13-3 if you only count the first five innings of every game this spring -- which is when the major-league starters are still in the game. Perhaps nothing could be more telling than a quote from manager Kirk Gibson: "I'm ready to be impressed, I can tell you that." Such a statement in the spring is troubling, because most of the time optimism is in the air.

BARTMAN MOVIE OUT SOON: Catching Hell , an ESPN 30-for-30 documentary about the infamous Steve Bartman foul ball (Cubs, Moises Alou, Marlins, 2003 NLCS, Game 6 ... c'mon, you know this) will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 20-May 1 in New York City. The one thing that's amazing to me in the years since that inning is how much people -- non-Cubs fans, to be specific -- seem to enjoy pointing out the loss wasn't Bartman's fault. The insinuation behind this is that all Cubs fans blame the loss on Bartman, which couldn't be further from the truth. Go talk to a group of educated Cubs fans and Alex Gonzalez's name is much more blasphemous. I'll reserve judgment on the movie until it comes out, but I can't help but think some myths are going to be further perpetuated because a few jerk fans threw things at Bartman -- which was reprehensible. In fact, expect a further rant from me on the subject when the movie is released. (Chicago Tribune )

"BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!" We've all heard it in spring training. We've all mocked it. But a sample of players the past few years who have declared they are in the best shape of their life have actually outperformed expectations more than players who didn't make such a declaration in the spring. It doesn't mean there's always merit behind the claim, but it's certainly an interesting query. (Baseball Prospectus )

THE GREEK GOD OF JOKES:
Kevin Youkilis walked and then struck out to Yankees 20-year-old prospect Manny Banuelos Monday night. So, naturally, Banuelos is a stud, right? "He's going to be a Hall of Famer," Youkilis told reporters (New York Times ). He made it clear he was kidding, but didn't want to go overboard. When he got serious about the potential phenom, he was respectful.

"He's got three pitches he can throw pretty good, now he has to learn how to pitch," said Youkilis, adding: "If he figures it out, he'll be all right. Being left-handed and throwing hard, if you throw three good pitches and you're left-handed, you don't even have to throw 90."

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: March 6, 2011 11:35 am
 

Pepper: Phillie concern

Domonic Brown

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After nothing but (deserved) rave reviews this offseason, reality is hitting the Philadelphia Phillies.

Still the favorite in the National League East, the same problem that kept them in a division race last season is popping up again -- injuries.

Chase Utley is already getting cortisone shots and, as our own Danny Knobler wrote it perfectly, if the Phillies are concerned -- and they're saying they're concerned -- it's not a good sign.

And now Domonic Brown is out with a broken hamate bone in his hand. Although Brown was struggling this spring -- hitless in 15 at-bats -- and was likely headed to Triple-A, he was still part of the team's plans for 2011.

The hamate injury is a tricky one -- he'll likely be able to play this season, but he won't be the same. Last year when I was around the Reds a bit, I talked to two players who were in different stages of the same injury. One, Yonder Alonso, suffered the injury in 2009, the other, Chris Dickerson, had the surgery during last season.

Dickerson was able to return and even played with the Reds and Brewers after the surgery. Alonso had the surgery in June of 2009 and was back that season, as well. However, the injury saps power. Alonso told me several times that the ball just didn't jump off his bat the same, what would be a double in the past wasn't getting past outfielders, and what was a homer in the past just died in the outfield. As doctors told him, about a year fate the surgery, his power was back. 

Brown can return this season, but don't expect him to be the same player he has shown to be in the minor leagues and that he'll be in the future.

The Phillies are counting on Ben Francisco and Ross Gload to fill in for Jayson Werth until Brown is ready. Now they'll be counting on those two longer.

Pitching won't be a problem for Philadelphia, and it wasn't the problem last year. When the team got in trouble, it was injuries and offense. With uncertainly to the health of Utley and then general uncertainty with Jimmy Rollins, there's cause for concern in Philly.

That said, they're still the favorites, but maybe not quite the prohibitive favorites they were before.

STAYING PAT: The Yankees appear to be happy with the starters they have in camp -- CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova.

Brian Cashman tells the Boston Globe the team is unlikely to trade for a starter before opening day.

"Can't rule it out, but it's highly unlikely," Cashman said. "Normally anything of quality doesn't become available until after the June draft. That's why you try and get as much as you can get accomplished in winter."

HOT DOG RUN: Apparently because the team mom forgot the orange slices, after his stint in Saturday's game, Boston's Dustin Pedroia ducked out of the Red Sox clubhouse to the concession stand for three hot dogs.

"They probably didn't think he was a player," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters, including the Providence Journal. "Did you see that outfit he had on? He looks like he's going into second grade."

NATS OPTIMISM: A scout tells Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman (via Twitter) that Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann is "back." He's throwing 94-95 mph with a "superb" slider. Said the scout, "if they had [Stephen] Strasburg, they'd be dangerous."

The Nats don't, but Zimmermann offers hope for 2012, as he had Tommy John surgery in August of 2009, a year before Strasburg. 

AMBASSADOR GRIFFEY: Ken Griffey Jr.'s new job with the Mariners is to be an ambassador of sort, but before he does that, he served the same role for the U.S. State Department in the Philippines. 

Griffey just returned from working with coaches and youth players in the Philippines. 

USA Today's Paul White caught up with him last week before his trip. Griffey still refuses to talk about his exit from the game, but he'll likely be seen around the Mariners some this season. His new job requires about a month's worth of work with the team, doing a little bit of everything.

More importantly, he's being a dad. His daughter Taryn recently led Orlando's Dr. Phillips High School to the Florida girls basketball championship. Taryn Griffey, a freshman point guard, had 21 points in the championship game.

His son, Trey, is a junior safety and wide receiver who is being recruited, as well.

PIAZZA NOT BUYING Mets: Mike Piazza tells the New York Post he's interested in buying part of a baseball team "someday" but not now.

"I think everything is timing," Piazza said. "It's an interesting time in the game. There's a lot of change going on … but as far as anything on the forefront, there's nothing. Let's just say I talked to some people that are interested in getting into the game … It doesn't cost anything to talk. At least not yet."

NO PANIC FOR Braves: Atlanta's 23-year-old Craig Kimbrel has the inside track to replace Billy Wagner as the Braves' closer, but he's not been very good so far this spring. He's struggled with his command and has allowed four runs and six hits in three appearances this spring.

"If there is a trend like this later in the spring, then you start worrying about it," manager Fredi Gonzalez tells MLB.com. "But not right now."

CAIN FEELS BETTER: Giants pitcher Matt Cain played catch for about eight minutes on Saturday and felt no pain in his right elbow.

Cain was scratched from his last start and won't make his scheduled start on Tuesday, either. (MLB.com)

PIONEER LAID TO REST: About 500 people reportedly attended the funeral of Wally Yonamine in Hawaii on Saturday, according to Sanspo (via YakyuBaka.com). A memorial service will also be held in Tokyo later this month.

Yonamine, the first American to play professional baseball in Japan, died earlier this week at 85. The New York Times had a good obituary earlier this week, and a column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser shed light on how Yonamine dealt with death threats and other pressures when he started playing in Japan.

However, Yonamine became a star in Japan and was elected to the Japan Baseball Hall of Fame in 1994. He was also the first Asian-American to play in the NFL.

NOT THAT IT'S GONNA HAPPEN: But contraction isn't going to happen.

Union chief Michael Weiner tells the St. Petersburg Times that the union will fight any attempt to contract teams.

"Having been in bargaining in baseball since the late 80s, anything is fathomable, so we don't either take anything for granted or rule anything out," Weiner said. "All I would says is if that changes, if contraction becomes a goal of the owners in this negotiation, the tenor of the talks would change quickly and dramatically."

Bud Selig tells the Los Angeles Times it's not a goal for the owners, and it's certainly not a fight they want to take up.

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Posted on: February 11, 2011 10:29 am
 

Dickerson could become Brewers CF

DickersonWhen the Brewers traded for Zack Greinke, they had to cough up Lorenzo Cain, robbing the team of its starting center fielder entering 2011.

Cain had supplanted Carlos Gomez in center near the tail end of 2010 and showed enough that it looked like the speedster in Gomez was doomed to the bench. That's a good thing when the player's career numbers hold a .246 batting average, .293 on-base percentage and .349 slugging percentage. Gomez is just 25, but it is difficult to imagine him improving significantly on these numbers.

Even his career-high 33 stolen bases can't hide these numbers and while he is an above-average defender, he doesn't make enough impact there to force himself into the starting lineup by virtue of his glove alone. Two automatic outs in Gomez and Betancourt is rather unfortunate to have in the lineup, but the Brewers may have a solution to their conundrum, and it comes internally and goes by the name Chris Dickerson.

Acquired in the Jim Edmonds deal last season, Dickerson is long on tools but has struggled to stay healthy. In his first two seasons in the majors from 2008-09, he posted a .283/.383/.440 line in 421 plate appearances. This is bolstered by a 1.021 OPS in 122 PA back in '08, but the line remains striking. He also has shown his promise down on the farm with a .282/.382/.471 mark in 900 Triple-A appearances. Dickerson easily has the potential to take over center on a full-time basis, but there's one problem.

You'll notice I didn't mention 2010 in the previous paragraph. That's because it deserves its own paragraph. Dickerson hit for a brutal .206/.250/.268 line in 106 plate appearances between the Reds and Brewers. It's a damning line, but it's also very out of character. Witness his scorching .442/.528/.767 mark in Tirple-A, although in just 55 plate appearances. Clearly, this is an issue that was specific to the major leagues, and there's one statistic that immediately caught my attention that may be responsible.

Dickerson walked just 5.7 percent of the time in 2010. That's down from 13.9 percent in 2008 and 13 percent in 2009. That's a major, major drop, and it's backed up by an 11.6 percent increase in swinging at balls outside of the strike zone compared to his 2009, as Fangraphs reveals.

Why did Dickerson suddenly become so impatient? I'm not Dickerson, nor am I Facebook friends with him, but I'll haphazard a guess that it has a lot to do with his right wrist surgery that knocked him out for just over three months and SSS -- Small Sample Size. Prior to the surgery, Dickerson was coming off the bench for the Reds and amassed just 45 plate appearances and really paid for his new aggressiveness as he walked just 2.2 percent of the time and made contact against pitches outside the zone 25.8 percent of the time, swinging at these pitches 32.6 percent of the time.

When Dickerson returned, he did so as a Brewer and while he kept up his aggressiveness, things changed for him. His contact rates outside the strike zone rose to a more appreciable 52.4 percent, and that enabled him to put the ball in play more as well as foul off more pitches. That increase allowed him to boost his walk rate to 8.2 percent -- not near his previous marks, but right around league average. (Did he make better contact because he wasn't struggling with his wrist?)

For comparison, the league average in 2010 for contact rate against balls out of the strike zone was 66.5 percent and the swing percentage is 29.3 percent. Even that pales in comparison to Dickerson's own career big-league numbers -- swinging at pitches outside the zone just 23.6 percent of the time and making contact 46 percent of the time. Those numbers include 2010, by the way.

How much stock can we put in Dickerson's at-bats in 2010? That's where small sample size comes in. If Dickerson gets off to a 5-for-10 start in 2011, that doesn't mean he's a .500 hitter. It means he got five hits in 10 at-bats. That's it. So when is the number of plate appearances enough to draw conclusions from?

Fortunately, there are ways to determine what is an appropriate number of at-bats to derive information from, as Fangraphs notes. Contact rate (of which we've been discussing) stabilizes around 100 plate appearances. Dickerson totalled 106, so it's fair to question what the heck he was doing, even if I'm leery about it given his surgery, previous history and being traded. (For those wondering, it takes 500 plate appearances before batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and the like to stablize.)

We don't know enough about Dickerson's 2010 to determine if his new aggressiveness is for real. Was he pressing? Told to be more aggressive by Dusty Baker so as to not clog the bases? What we do know is that Dickerson experienced quite an outlier in terms of patience at the plate. If that's all it is -- an outlier -- then Dickerson may be ready to rack up 400 at-bats for Milwaukee in 2010.

If not, I suspect we'll have quite a bit of fun trying to figure out what changed in Dickerson's approach once the season ends.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 30, 2010 6:38 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2010 8:51 pm
 

Edmonds 'leaning toward' retirement

Jim Edmonds Jim Edmonds said Monday that he expects his 17th season will be his last, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy .

"I'm leaning toward shutting it down and being a family man again," Edmonds said. "I've made my mark. I've done as much as I can do as an everyday player."

Edmonds was traded by the Brewers to Cincinnati on Aug. 9 for outfielder Chris Dickerson, but has been on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with a strained right oblique. Although McCalvy writes Edmonds will likely retire at the end of the season, he also says Edmonds had considered retiring earlier this season and it's uncertain if he'll be able to return this season.

Edmonds, 40, is hitting .272 with nine homers and 21 RBI this season, but has hit just .136/.208/.364 in nine games with the Reds. He has a home run and an RBI.

The Reds had hoped he'd add some pop off the bench from the left side, but he hasn't done much of that in his short tenure in Cincinnati.

Dickerson, also left-handed, has hit .303/.351/.394 in 14 games with the Brewers, knocking in five runs without the benefit of a home run. He's also stolen a base.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 12, 2010 1:09 am
 

Braun to return to Brewers' lineup

Ryan Braun Ryan Braun will be back in the Brewers lineup on Thursday, Milwaukee manager Ken Macha told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy .

"He's going to play," Macha said. "After he took batting practice, he came up to me and said, 'I'll be ready to go tomorrow.'"

Braun hasn't started since suffered a strained left wrist Sunday against Houston. Braun pinch-ran in Tuesday's game and pinch-hit on Wednesday. He struck out with bases loaded.

Braun is hitting .289/.343/.463 with 16 home runs and 68 RBI.

As recently as Monday the Brewers were scrounging for healthy outfielders, but pretty soon it could be very crowded. Corey Hart (back) was back in the lineup on Wednesday, Braun is on the way back and Carlos Gomez is expected to start a rehab assignment at Triple-A Nashville on Friday and would return soon looking for playing time alongside rookie Lorenzo Cain and recently-acquired Chris Dickerson.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 10, 2010 7:55 pm
 

Braun unsure of when he will return

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun said he doesn't know how long he'll be out with his sprained right wrist.

Braun hurt the wrist Sunday against Houston before missing Monday's game with Arizona and tonight's game, as well. The Brewers are also without right fielder Corey Hart (back).

"I never want to put a timetable on something because you never know," Braun told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 's Tom Haudricourt . "Every injury is different; every injury is unique. You never know how your body is going to respond or what's going to happen."

The Brewers did get reinforcements, as Chris Dickerson was in the starting lineup, playing center field. Dickerson was acquired in Monday's trade with Cincinnati for Jim Edmonds.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: August 9, 2010 8:43 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2010 12:32 pm
 

Brewers running short on outfielders


Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun had his left wrist examined by team doctors on Monday and was out of the lineup for Monday's game against the Diamondbacks.

Braun hit his wrist against Houston first baseman Brett Wallace while beating out an infield single on Sunday. He stayed in the game, but went hitless in his last two at-bats.

When Braun got to the ballpark on Monday, he told manager Ken Macha he couldn't play, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt writes .

The team expects to hear a prognosis on Braun later tonight.

Milwaukee was also without right fielder Corey Hart, suffering from lower back stiffness. Hart left Sunday's game in the sixth inning.

"I probably shouldn't have tried to play yesterday," Hart told Haudricourt. "It was tight before the game, and I probably over-stretched trying to get it loose. That just made it worse."

The Brewers were also without Jim Edmonds, who was traded to Cincinnati and his replacement, Chris Dickerson, had missed his flight from Cincinnati and wasn't available at gamete. Shortstop Alcides Escobar started in right, with Craig Counsell at shortstop.

UPDATE: Good news for the Brewers, it's a wrist strain and contusion for Braun. His status is day to day .

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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