Giants outfielder Alex Dickerson was on the field Friday evening, warming up for a game in his hometown, when general manager Scott Harris, manager Gabe Kapler and other members of the staff started telling players they would not be playing that night. Dickerson was identified as the one who had tested positive for COVID-19 and taken to an isolation room at Petco Park, where he was immediately given another test from a rapid results machine the Giants travel with.
As stressful as that sounds, it was only the beginning of what became a nightmare weekend for Dickerson.
Dickerson gave the Giants permission Sunday to announce that he had been the one to test positive -- later ruled a false positive -- and he nearly broke down when explaining to reporters what the last 48 hours have been like.
Dickerson said his wife is 39 weeks pregnant and on the verge of giving birth to a son, the couple's first child. He has been tested a half-dozen times since the initial test, which was taken Thursday and came back to the Giants on Friday, and his wife also has been tested. As they waited for clearance and had a couple of sleepless nights, Dickerson found his name had been leaked on social media by a reporter in Southern California, and that USA Today had reported false information about his activities upon arriving in San Diego on Wednesday night.
"I do want to bring to light the fact that false reporting did happen in my situation that had extremely negative effects on me and my family. A report from USA Today saying that 'the player who remains unidentified told several members of the Giants traveling party that he believed he was possibly infected by a family member or friend in San Diego,' that is completely false," Dickerson said. "Those kinds of statements lead to a steamrolling effect that caused my wife, who is 39 weeks pregnant, to deal with a lot of stuff she did not deserve to deal with. It was not easy.
"When you're dealing with pregnancy and COVID-19, it is not a good thing to make the assumption that I came in and went and broke protocol and saw family and friends when I'm only permitted to see my wife and she is the only person I saw, and she has been quarantining and on bed rest. It caused a lot of problems, a lot of hate to come towards you and it was kind of unwarranted."
Dickerson's wife tested negative earlier this month and has been on bed rest ever since, seeing only her mother, who also has tested negative. She was waiting at the team hotel when her husband arrived late Wednesday night, and Dickerson played against the San Diego Padres on Thursday. A few hours later, his life was thrown upside down.
The initial test came back to the Giants just minutes before Friday's game and players were taken out of the clubhouse in waves to avoid gathering in large groups. The Giants did rapid tests on all members of their traveling party on Friday and all the results came back negative. The Padres facilitated some of the testing, providing their own machine to help speed the process up.
The Giants took saliva tests on Saturday morning but had to wait for the results to get back from MLB's lab in Salt Lake City. Late Saturday, they finally got word that the entire group had been cleared. In the meantime, Dickerson and his wife went to a local hospital for tests. Every one came back negative. The Giants consulted with MLB's doctors and their own and determined that they could return to the field Sunday, with Dickerson in the lineup after a false positive.
"They expressed a lot of confidence that there was no health concern in carrying forward with the games today," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said.
The Giants are not able to fully figure out what happened with the original result. Zaidi said it's possible it was contaminated at some point during the collection or transit process or at the lab itself, and it's also possible that Dickerson had something in his system at one point but now is completely clear. MLB told the Giants that they have done over 100,000 tests and have seen this pattern before.
Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler both said the overwhelming feeling in recent hours was relief, for the team but also for Dickerson and his family. The Dickersons ultimately got good news, although they had a harrowing weekend. The stress is not over.
Dickerson said he is not sure if he will be able to be there for the birth of his child, although he hopes to be. There are stricter rules at hospitals in general right now, and MLB has its own protocols in place.
This is not as simple as Dickerson simply hopping on a flight to San Diego later this week for the birth and returning to the team when ready. He said he was still working through all of that, but at the very least he is past a scare that popped up out of nowhere as he was stretching Friday afternoon.
"It came as a complete shock," Dickerson said. "At no point did I ever actually believe it was real. We did take it seriously and both teams did what needed to do and followed all the protocol, but at no point did I ever actually believe it."