BOSTON – Chris Dickerson was getting ready to bat in the first inning of Norfolk’s game on Tuesday night when manager Ron Johnson beckoned him. Instead of batting, he wanted Dickerson to leave the field.
Dickerson was going to Boston to meet the Orioles, who purchased his contract before Wednesday’s game.
“We got a good laugh about it afterward,” Dickerson, who celebrates his 31st birthday. Dickerson is not in the lineup for Wednesday’s game.
The Orioles made room for Dickerson on the roster by trading Luis Ayala to Atlanta for minor league pitcher Chris Jones.
Manager Buck Showalter said that it was tough saying goodbye to Ayala, but the move was necessitated by wanting to give an extended opportunity to Rule 5 draft choice T.J. McFarland. The move allows the Orioles to return to a four-man bench and 12 pitchers.
“Luis will like it there. Atlanta is a good spot for him. It’s a good club, but we like the player we got back. We like the conventional 12 pitchers and get our bench back at full strength and also create some opportunities,” Showalter said.
“Kind of knowing who we are, and wanting to take a look at T.J. and some other people, we feel like we have some depth to withstand it if there’s an issue. It’s something we’ve been thinking about.”
Dickerson was one of a host of outfielders who signed minor league contracts with the team, and he was one of the final cuts..
Showalter was impressed by him in spring training, and with Wilson Betemit and Brian Roberts on the disabled list, there’s an opportunity for Dickerson, who’s played with Cincinnati, Milwaukee and the New York Yankees.
“Plus defender, plus-thrower. A left-handed bat. The guy has had experience in the American League East and at this point as we wait on Wilson and Brian to come back to us, we’ve got options. He’s one of many we think can help us here,” Showalter said.
While Showalter said last weekend he hoped to keep 13 pitchers until early next month, he also said on Monday he wanted to revert to a four-man bench as will as create a spot for McFarland.
“Dan and I knew it wasn’t something we wanted to do very long. We were on the same page. We had to wait until we could get the right player back and the right deal where Luis was concerned, we will see. We got a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher; he’s going to have to have some success in order to keep him. We can’t just carry some guy. But we like him.
“It wasn’t completely about keeping TJ. We like the player we got back. We knew we weren’t going to be at 13 pitchers all year. After the off day we felt it was going to be a good time to go,” Showalter said.
Dickerson was confident he would make the team, and disappointed that he didn’t.
“When I came in, that was kind of one of the deals that was proposed to me when I talked to [executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette], is that there was a really good chance that I would make this team. And just having the good spring that I did, I felt I fit in and I would offer a lot to the team,” Dickerson said.
“That's one thing you have to do when you go in. That's what you're playing for. You're constantly competing every day in spring training in hopes of earning that spot. When it came down to that last day, it was crushing, but Buck and I talked about it and he said not to be too down about it because you could be back at any time. And he was right."
After just seven games, Dickerson was called up. One of the reasons he signed with the Orioles was that last year there were dozens of moves and players shuttled in and out.
"It's baseball. Anything can happen. For all we know, everyone could be turned into iron men this year. You don't assume anything, nor to do wish anything, that people get hurt. You want to approach it that the team is going to be as successful and as healthy as possible, so you've just got to kind of wait it out. But I didn't expect this," Dickerson said.
NOTES: Steve Johnson, who’s on the disabled list with a back injury, will throw three innings or 55 pitches in extended spring training on Saturday. Tsuyoshi Wada will throw two innings. The Orioles hope Wada will be ready to pitch for them around June 1. Dylan Bundy, who’s had some tightness in his right elbow, will start a throwing program on Thursday.