Alex Dickerson: Why the Ball Flies at Oracle Park
From labra doodles to grow nuts the world of hybrid so today businesses are taking a smarter hybrid cloud approach using the tools platform and expertise of ibm. The world is going hybrid with ibm visit. Ibm dot com slash hybrid cloud. Hello and welcome to the splash. I'm john shea of the san francisco. Chronicle and our guest is giants leftfielder alex dickerson. Who's kind enough to join us after coming off a fabulous season as one of the best hitters on the team. We discuss playoff hopes for next. Season is unique theories about why the ball flies out at oracle park in the first guaranteed contract in his ten year. professional career. enjoy high alex. Thanks for coming on the podcast. And how you doing everything. Okay yeah doing great Just hanging out here in san diego. Yeah great well. There's so much talk about right now. We're in the offseason but you have a contract for twenty twenty one. The reasons for optimism with the team you coming off a solid twenty twenty and levi ross dickerson entered the world. Just as last season was coming to a close. Congratulations once again. But what what's fatherhood been like for you. It's it's been exhausting. But for the most part i it's been every bit as rewarding as it is tiring of people the way they warn you about it. It's it's every everything they said it would be your extremely tired for specially those first six weeks there but he started sleeping through the night now seeing him develop everything and he's Smiles gonna get in the room and it really really brightens my day like a senate extremely rewarding. It's been a great time beautiful. The big news of the baseball week was the non tender deadline in you're eligible for arbitration In your case it wasn't simply about tendering you though it was signing a guaranteed contract for twenty twenty one and you've been pro ball for a decade now signing out of college in twenty eleven and this is your first guaranteed deal. What what's the comfort level. I mean there are a lot of people who say a I got a different approach in spring training. Because it is a guarantee i can work on x y and z instead of trying to put up big numbers. Yes i mean for me. it's a. It's extremely big moment. Like you said i've been doing this for ten years now and i think a lot of people don't understand how long it takes to get any type of guarantee in this game and i know that better than anybody with specially with my injuries and if i got to tell myself two years ago that this would be the result santer two more years and getting to this point Think i don't think i would have been. I don't think that alex would be surprised. But he had no what it takes to overcome that and get to this point in the. It's a great moment for me. It's great mon for family and anybody else met stabs doctors. Anybody supported me through those tough times and definitely a getting getting the contract. Guaratee is a great feeling going into spring training. The does take weight off your shoulders where you're not you're not. You're you're always going to go and compete. You're always competing for your job. But it puts it puts you in a bowl. Were for the first time you're concerned really just about opening day. You're not you're not in there. Like oh my god i gotta make this team. You're still going to compete like that. But at the same time you're able to have a little bit of that weight taken off in a little bit of patience with yourself especially for those first few weeks of spring training just to make sure everything's going smoothly. You mentioned opening day and it seems right around the corner. It seems like we've finished last year yesterday but you see in the giants next season. I mean you fell one win shy of the play offs and it was a team that finished a lot better than started Once guys started getting in the groove are getting the position insist that they were more comfortable with. How do you. How do you How do you build on that and are the playoffs realistic. Because that's what our hands eighty. Seven is a goal. Yeah i absolutely think playoffs a realistic I think we're confident is anybody that We we thought we were that. I had that game that season been longer. I think you would've seen even more improvement on our end. This ours like the trajectory. We were eddie end and we had a tough schedule. We played it pretty well and There's a lot to be extremely excited about the offensive unit. Like one through nine the whole batch. Almost everybody's back and it's just a it's it's a great group fun lineup. the hidden. there's danger all the way up and down at. There's a lot of patience and i. I do think the layoffs are realistic goal for us. We're going to add a couple pieces here at some point Like you're always confident when you have a locker room. This guys have multiple world series rings already on the fingers. They know what it takes to get there. And i'd say we're as competent as anybody in the west is a extremely tough division of padres. Dodgers are extremely good teams diamondbacks and rockies always put up good fights and but We we think we can hang with their with with anybody. What do you think you'll have to do to get a couple. More pieces Her a if you were the gm had quite yet. But but i mean you you did lose smiley. Anderson was intended. You bring it back guzman. The offense was better than it has been in a lot of years And you know. There's bullpen depth. Always but you know there's talk about maybe a left handed batter to lay low third. Play second with longoria solano. But what are your thoughts on the roster. I still think we already have pieces there to compete. I don't know where we end up getting more. But what we have already is already an extremely competitive group Having guzman back at the front of that rotation. I mean that's that's great playing behind him were gray games last year. The guy's got credible arms got great endurance to really put a team on his back and then as far as other pieces. You never know where we're going to go and what we're going to add. But i think the trackers especially over the last two years of our front office has been able to add and get good quality at ads. Good-quality innings guys. It speaks for itself and Ara eddie this offseason. We signed jason vossler. A guy i've played with without paso. I think he's going to be a big part of what we do. I got to see him firsthand. And these solid player could play a lot of a lot of places in the infield. And i think he's another guys just been overlooked in the grand scheme of things and you're gonna get to see a really good baseball player. Get out there competing kind of add to what we already do while it. You mentioned is he the kind of versatile overall well rounded guy who can do a bunch of stuff for you that the steam likes to pursue. Absolutely i like. I said i got to play with them for a month. And i'll pass on saw that right away a guy that has a good approach. Play just a solid baseball player. Play all around around the infield and he's gonna fit in real nicely with what we what we got going for us. Alex you embrace or is it always goal to be the full-time guy out there You didn't you didn't get many bats against lefties but is there a feeling that if you did if you did get an extended opportunity you would have the numbers because looking at two thousand sixteen when when you play more games than any you've ever had you had a higher batting average against left these unreas- yes so that's kind of a. If you actually dig back miners. I want to say almost every single year my entire life. I've always had a higher average left on left Always hit them. Well so i i do. I will always believe that. I'm a guy that can go out there and face them. I'm not a detriment. Any team facing lefties. But i think at this point in my career. the platooning aspect is more to get me off my feet just a little more and give give me a chance to stay healthier and i'm all for however they wanted design and i think they have the opposite if they need to put me in there against the lefty get the job. Done it really. I think the the main thing that makes it work as well as does the fact that whoever we put in on the right hand side against those lefties they're going to be better against lefties than me. It's not that i'm bad against him. But when you're on slater darren rough out. There is guys pulverized them in one. You're looking at driving in runs on an entire season. That's where they're looking at when when he gets the platooning. It's not that. It's not that i don't have competence or they don't have confidence that i can't face left. Latin one of those platooning situations is more. That the other guy we're gonna put in. He's gonna. He's got a really good chance. Go deep off on one thing. I never had track record left on left. Was i'd ever hit him for quite as much power in the way the games play now. I think that's where a lot of the runs. Wanna be generated. Okay okay cool. How much work have you done in the offseason. So far is that more of a january thing. I'll never forget like the dulles story Your your giants debut You know the monster game. You had a grand slam. Two run triple a sharp single. Gary crowley that i were at your locker early asked about it in your quote was due for a good game and i thought i'd never heard that from anybody in all my years in the game but i think it's an explained what kinda hitter you are You know and i. I soon found out. What kind of hitter is you kind of. Carry the team for a month or two there but Wha what what is the off season training like and you're hitting schedule normally. Yeah so for me. It's the barely portions. There's definitely a break. I always have programmed in there a lot of times. Because i'm nursing some type of injury at the end of the year. Thankfully this last last year did not have that. But i did have a kid for the first time. The first month ended up being a lot of watching him and get an acclimated to being a dad. Wall getting ready for my job. And then after that. It's these these next november december for me or a lot of kind of mobility. Just kind of feeling out. Make sure my body's getting balanced and then here in these next few weeks when i really started getting into what i call baseball shape for them. Picking it up a little bit at in lot more cardio just getting a feel for how my body's moving around a i've taken out a lot of really heavy lifting of never seen the benefit for it. It's always made me feel worse. And quite frankly i've never hit the ball further from anything i've ever done in the weight room. It's always come from getting a little more mobility just a little better a little athleticism so almost entirely eliminated that and kobe itself. Kind of push that even further this year but then a the the baseball stuff. I pick up in january. The hitting doesn't take me very long to feel competitive. Normally it takes within a week and then it's just about building up some endurance and i kind of balance that out some some years. I'll do it early january some mid and then the throwing throwing the ever since the tommy. John i start doing that here in the next couple of weeks just to get a feel for what i need to work on kind of build up strength there and yeah then the spring training kind of takes care of the rest. Were you really put a put into the coals. Get after it and get the full baseball. The atmosphere going a lot of times. That's where the difficulty as he's less first two weeks of spring training. Because you can't simulate in the off season being includes all day the up and down the meetings all those things they really do. Add into your baseball endurance. And there's no way to really simulate that for what we do in the offseason. We'll be back with more of alex. Dickerson right after this quick break support for this. Podcast comes from progressive. Saving money on your car. Insurance is easy with progressive. It's an average savings of seven hundred ninety dollars for customers who switch and save in fact. Customers can qualify for an average of six discounts on their auto policy with progressive including discounts. Just for starting a quote online or owning multiple vehicles get your quote online at progressive dot com and see how much you could be saving national average annual car insurance savings by new customer survey who saved with progressive in two thousand nineteen discounts vary and are not available in all states and situations healthful had been an issue but not in twenty. Twenty gratifying. Was that did you do anything different to maintain the and stay in the lineup. No it was a it was its own build up over the years. I always say every injury i've ever had been. It's more just another learning experience. I think some people like to take a look at any injuries. All your damaged goods now. You're only going downhill from here. But i've only gotten stronger and healthier from all of these because you start to learn how your body moves better. You better prepare it and where your flaws were. So i wasn't particularly surprised my twenty twenty when as well as a did the only surprise. Was that going into it. I mean we were short spring training and not being able to do a lot of the things that i know i need to do and there was definitely hiccups here. Were there tweak. Somethin- where i know it could have been avoided. Had we had normal rules. And i could do. My normal routine. Were at show up at noon. I'm doing stuff for three or four hours. Then make work away in batting practice and all that but unfortunately with the tobin rules this year they took that away and that was the one that a nervousness i had throughout the season was. Hey i'm not getting these things i know. I need to do to stay healthy end. I don't literally they don't let us in the building long enough to get them done and there. There were some like some difficult times throughout the season. Especially early on but all of very happy with how i was able to kind of work with the trainers strength staff and get enough into where i was able to kinda push through the finish line and wasn't really limping toward it. Well what about your season. Twenty twenty was a career high batting average on base slugging euro. Ps was nine forty seven only belt in yes had higher opium With what did you take from that. And how do you build on a good run. There especially for alabama was for a month there but at times. I knew i was hitting the ball. Hard newest control the strikes on pretty well. There was a lot of bad luck in there. And i'm happy that the giants knew that and hung with me because around the league you saw you saw guys getting taken off rosters for doing what i did in the first month and i always thought that i had. I was nervous. Because you're looking at that as like man. They really going to do that. Thirty games in any season. Anybody can have stretches like that and you kind of expect on but they had confidence in me and then i was able to get extremely hot there for the second month and really built non this just the kinda taken what. I've learned the continuing the competing process. I do believe that the under sixty two games. You wanna still seem the product that i put out there. Maybe even a little better. Considering how much bad luck. I had in that first month tend to only have one or two slumps feel like that and then the rest of us just kind of a balancing act the rest of the year and Really it's just kind of staying that staying that trajectory seeing seeing how far i could push this forward and continue to compete on everyday basis. You're right not. Did you like the new yard you. The wall was brought in. The archways were covered. The ball flew off the bad. Like i hadn't seen since the early two thousand just just curious about that and whether it was a much of a topic of aggravation monkey guys now. So the defense thing is a bit overblown. They moved it in like six feet. And right centered still the furthest right-field right-center there is. I mean it's still so far out there in center. They moved it in like seven or eight feet. It may be a little low sibal in the gap. This and there might have been wandered. Wanda three or four balls snuck out for people this year. That wouldn't have the archway thing. I don't think that had any effect on it. I think that's too low to really affect flight on the baseball. Especially in such an open stadium at oracle. But i think what you really did see was our guys were top to bottom just hitting the ball much harder and i think the exit velocities and stuff like that would agree. We just had a great team approach. We had a great hitting group with with the staff. We had making adjustments for us. And i think as a as a whole the giants were just hitting the ball. Much harder than out of the ballpark. I don't think played into that much at all Maybe a little bit may be attended manley because it is like. I said it's huge. Were that thing was four. Twenty one before it's supposed to be under four hundred feet most ballparks. It's still way further than normal. It's still a pitcher's part but Yeah i i think it's more of a product of good quality hitting our end. Okay okay because i go back to that you you played that exhibition against the as in chattanooga came up a right handed hitter. I just don't see many balls by a right handed hitter. Hit to the part of the ballpark that he hit. And it's true that that doesn't happen often but the thing that the i don't think people realize Maybe they don't know his name. He's very well known for being able to absolutely massacre ball. Smooth right-center like freakish. I think more credit to him. They'll do freakish stuff. Same with ted teased. Did the same thing i think people are were looking for all the ballpark's changed but it now that that guy if you see some of his home runs throughout the season he consistently balls like hundred ten miles an hour. It's not lots of prizes capable of that. What about the ball itself. Same ball or with cold. You could make an argument. I think it's definitely. I don't think the ball is different from twenty nine thousand nine hundred twenty The ball that has less drag definitely travels better. I think a lot of a especially throughout the league the opposite field homer it used to be. You only saw big guys doing that. You're seeing a lot of smaller guys and more. Some of that might be swing changed. Some of it might be the pitching that much harder. But i think as an outfielder i can definitely say that in. But i've said this since two thousand sixteen like early twenties sixteen that the major league ball has always traveled much better than you ever saw in the minor leagues. There was definitely a huge difference. That was not being talked about then to the point when they finally brought it into aaa. You saw. The numbers skyrocket which i definitely anticipated in their the one balancing act. Pc hell hat was that yeah. The ball flew because the ballpark's for good to hidden but the baseball did not go as far and then when they add the change the baseball than it became a joke. So i think it's always in the big leagues traveled better. I don't know that got any extra better from sixteen to nineteen in the numbers will probably say different but it's always had less drag traveled better and that was very apparent to me said site like i got into the major leagues. How the giants in in particular in the in baseball in general at least until that final game of the world series stay largely free of nineteen. I mean there were the early cases with the marlins early cases with the cardinals but people for the most part seem to figure it out in it the whole season. Yeah i think on our end the really the thing was is if you just did. The protocol emmanuel even been as much of the protocol is just. You had to stay within your within your own team your own little bubble you had you had to stay home and really just avoiding the general public as much as possible and i think with our group. You didn't have guys at like at were eager to go out or any of that kind of thing in there's just a good focus from the get-go along with us fallin. The protocols helps a lot. But i really gets the when you look back at the season. The outbreaks stuff. I think there's probably some questions as the weather people were able to just follow everything as the as intended or whether they got outside of the bubble. You don't really know how these things get end. But i think with us. Everybody took it seriously from the get go and knew what was at stake. As far as you know our season we'd already lost a lot of games to to the kobe. Thing and i was just focused on staying in your mask on when you needed it on You know avoiding people avoiding going into the grocery store as much as you physically could avoid. Those kind of Distractions that could lead to you. Get an in contact with somebody. The added well you. You had that false positive. It's such a rare thing but it was an unfortunate thing. Wife is pregnant and people are pointing fingers until we realized it definitely was a false positive and looking back at how stressful was. I mean you're trying to get ready for games. And did you move on quickly. I mean with was there a lesson or is there a lesson for people in these times Yeah so that was one of the toughest forty eight hours ever dealt with the my life mainly because i didn't know it was almost like because of how well we were doing with it. It just did. The numbers didn't add up to where i could have gone in. If i would have gotten it a new. I would have had gotten it in san francisco where i was even more quarantine because i would staying at a hotel across the street and walking straight there and the fact that nobody else has positive like i was pretty confident. Did not have now. That said all the doubts start creeping in as this is going on and it happens to be in san diego the one time gotten see my wife and you know however many weeks months and so. She's the only person that was permitted to seize. She was only person did see but the test had failed. We showed up at two. Am and by the test. That was positive for was at noon. So i knew when people were trying to say that all i got at seeing family and stuff leaving my credibility is not there. It wouldn't have been possible for me to have gone and seen family in all those things and bring it in from the outside. So i knew that if i did indeed have a positive it was from within our own. Protocols was just seemed subaru unlikely but the stress of having to knowing that. If i did have it that would have given it to my wife who was about to go into labor week. And you don't end the hear all these horror stories about kobe pregnancy. What they're having to put some women in medically these coma so the stress of that in trying to clear us was miserable. I mean we took probably does it within a couple days trying to really confirm that did not have it then knowing that you have people looking at you like you destroyed the game in in the season even of nobody was doing that with me but i just had that feeling of manage screwed everybody over so it was unfortunate. It was terrible time. I'm happy to have got through it like we. We were able to do a very happy. That the That did happen at san diego. We had a lot of help from the padres. Doctors was well as their own. Their front office in ours really working together to get cleared back on the field but yeah it was a extremely tough time and wouldn't wish it upon anybody but very thankful that turned out. Alright yeah for sure. I can't imagine We'll just one last thing. There's a coup event coming up that you're involved with that benefits Underserved kids in the bay area and it's called holiday heroes at home. It's december eighth a tuesday. It's five o'clock yourself. I believe public sandoval. A mother's I think pablo will get a an award for his philanthropy but with what can you say about that of the alex. Yes oh it's an event to try to give back to underserved kids in the bay area. During this christmas time. It's a live event is just unbelievable. I got to do it last year. And you get that oracle park and they had all these events setup and there was a who's who of the niners. The warriors giants leg is the representation from everybody in the area was incredible. The experience was amazing and unfortunately with kobe Give that get that experience. For the kids. Out there the That's the downside of it. But the the upside is that now that we're doing it virtually this year We're going to be in a position. Where even if you can't make a door oracle go even if you're not in the area at the time you can join in and kind of take part in some of the festivities and anybody out there that wants to get it back to it. I think it's an incredible pause and it's gonna be needed much more this year than ever with such a tough year for so many families so Yeah it's just a great band. I'm extremely excited. Foreign excited to help get back to families that have had just a tough time wonderful. I mean you can go for more information to the website. Holiday eros dot org holiday. Heroes dot oregon. You can pick up tickets and you get some cool stuff in return. There's an auction at all kinds of stuff. And plus the feeling you'd be open these cans along but Yeah alex thanks so much for for being with us and best of luck to you. Approaching the twenty twenty one season. It was a great ending as you became a father. And thanks. thanks for your time. Thank you. Thanks for joining us on the splash and thanks again to alex dickerson for the conversation. Henry shulman and i will continue delivering podcasts through the off season so stay tuned. The giants splash production of the san francisco. Chronicle podcasts producers are king kaufman allen johnson. The theme song batter up was written and performed by lauren. Gold and ray. East lewis support the splash and all of our great journalism by signing up for chronicle membership at saf chronicle dot com slash pod.