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The timing that could make or break Alex Dickerson’s year


Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports


The timing seems right for Alex Dickerson.

His back feels great. A 60-game season would allow a slugger too often battling injuries to have a much better chance at seeing the beginning, middle and end of the year. His swing, while a living thing, looked game-ready Tuesday, stroking a Shaun Anderson offering over the right-field wall at Oracle Park, showing the Giants the same potential that lifted them from obscurity to brief relevance last year.

The literal timing, though, will have to continue to be right for the left fielder, who said he usually has taken about 2 1/2 hours to get ready for games, a routine that has been shrunk to about an hour this year. The windows when players can get into stadiums are so stringent under the new protocols, he has to be careful he and the staff are allotting him enough time to keep healthy a back that underwent surgery in 2017.

“It has been a challenge, and I’ve had to kind of voice that I think I need a little more time here or there,” Dickerson said on a Zoom call Tuesday after the intrasquad scrimmage. “And the staff’s been great at adjusting to that, and we’ve added some more time at the beginning to be able to get that done.

“We’re all going through this. … You have routines, and it’s not going to be perfect this year.”

It won’t, especially once traveling begins, and routines will have to be relearned and tweaked and shrunk and expanded. Yet, this also represents what could be a perfect year for Dickerson, whose .391/.454/.782 stretch from June 21 to July 28 last year convinced the Giants his bat was for real. So were the injuries, though, which slowed the 30-year-old’s ascent.

If he can navigate the potential pratfalls for a couple months, Dickerson’s is one of the rare Giants bats that has proven to be game-changing. Sixty short games that could write the second San Francisco chapter of the player they call Dick. (Those celebratory chants, though, will have to stop, as they greeted Dickerson along with hand shakes and hugs in the dugout last year; “We’ll find it,” Dickerson said of a new celebration. “I don’t know what it’s going to be, what it’s going to look like, but we’ll find it.”)

Sixty games that also could easily turn another injury into another lost season.

“It really is kind of that college schedule. The games are going to matter right from the get-go,” said Dickerson, who will platoon with Hunter Pence in left field and also see time at DH. “The challenge is going to be: There’s going to be pressure right out of the gate. But you gotta tell yourself this is still baseball. You’re still going to play your best when you’re relaxed.

“We feel like, 60 games, it can go any way for anybody. We’re going to be getting out there, putting our foot on the gas and trying to rack up wins as fast as possible.”

So far, so good. Dickerson has looked smooth and healthy, especially in an Oracle Park that is playing a bit smaller. Dickerson has noticed, referencing that dead-center is “definitely shorter.”

There is real potential for there to be more scenes like Tuesday’s: Dickerson lifting a pitch into the Arcade, rounding the bases in a park that could have doubled as a funeral home, then picking up his bat and bringing it back to the dugout.

This year will be weird. For Dickerson, he hopes it will be long.

“I want to get back to that point where I just feel like I’m having fun playing a game and just trying to compete again,” he said.

 

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