Alex Dickerson

Giants send Alex Dickerson back to SF for cortisone shot in oblique

Giants send Alex Dickerson back to SF for cortisone shot in oblique

LOS ANGELES -- Alex Dickerson helped briefly turn the season around in June and July, but as the Giants head to a disappointing end, they're unsure of exactly when they'll get the slugging outfielder back. 

Dickerson was sent back to San Francisco to get a cortisone injection in his troublesome right oblique. MRIs have come back clean, but Dickerson still feels discomfort and has shown it on some swings. He had not played in three straight games heading into Saturday's game at Dodger Stadium.

Dickerson is hitless in his last 18 at-bats and is batting just .152 over his past 17 appearances. The Giants have just 21 games left and are no longer in the race, but manager Bruce Bochy said that shouldn't lead anyone to believe Dickerson is being shut down for the year. He still would like to see Dickerson out there, and the Giants do still have some evaluating to do. 

Overall, Dickerson has been a huge positive. He was a game-changer for the lineup when he got hot, but he has not been able to stay on the field. That's been his issue throughout his carer. Bochy said the Giants would look into what they could do in the offseason to help with conditioning or a strengthening program.

[RELATED: Bochy gets back to .500 vs. Dodgers]

"These are questions that have to be answered when the season is over, so we can get the best out of a guy that is, I think, a really good hitter," Bochy said.

Why Giants' Alex Dickerson says Pablo Sandoval can return from surgery

Why Giants' Alex Dickerson says Pablo Sandoval can return from surgery

SAN FRANCISCO -- The "Let Pablo Pitch" movement officially will die on the operating table early next month when Pablo Sandoval undergoes Tommy John surgery.

But as one Giant talked about the rehab road ahead, he couldn't help but think of how well the ball has always come out of Sandoval's right hand. 

Alex Dickerson had Tommy John surgery a year ago and found he was slowed at times because his throwing motion put more stress on his surgically-repaired elbow. But Dickerson has seen Sandoval make enough throws from third to be confident about his ability to come back from the procedure. 

"I think it's something he's going to get through pretty easily because he's got a good throwing motion," Dickerson said. "It's not like mine where we had to rework some things. If you already have a good throwing motion, that comes a lot quicker."

Dickerson threw a natural cutter from the outfield and that put extra pressure on his elbow as he was cleared to pick up a ball last summer. He found the swinging part to be relatively uncomplicated, but because he had the procedure last March, he was out for a whole season. 

Dickerson returned healthy this season and turned into a middle-of-the-order bat for the Giants. At times he was right there with Sandoval, leading the charge, but the popular third baseman was shut down earlier this month when bone chips that have been in his elbow for six years acted up. 

The timing of the procedure -- it is scheduled for the first week of September -- is unfortunate given where the Giants are and Sandoval's relationship with Bruce Bochy, who is a month away from retirement. But it should give him a chance to contribute somewhere in late 2020. 

Dickerson said he was originally given a timeframe of 10 to 11 months and was fully cleared right at the 11-month mark. He was swinging a bat about four months in, and didn't find the buildup to full swings to be particularly cumbersome. Dickerson was confident Sandoval's unique style at the plate would return quickly.

"Once you're able to make a swing, you're able to make a swing. That part shouldn't be too difficult for him," he said. "I would expect him to make a normal swing pretty much overnight (once he's cleared) for the most part. That's who he is."

The complication, Dickerson feels, will come when swinging right-handed. That's part of what knocked Sandoval out this month, and even now the Giants feel he can swing from the left side without too many issues.

Perhaps Sandoval will come back as a left-handed hitter only, as the Giants have talked about in the past. That's to be decided, along with so much else about Sandoval's future. 

[RELATED: How Sandoval's Tommy John surgery could affect his free agency]

He is a free agent at the end of the year and will hit the market as a 33-year-old coming off major surgery. Sandoval will sort his options out as he rehabs, but there's little doubt about his ultimate goal.

"I've got more baseball in me," he said Saturday. "This is not the end of my career. I'll get healthy to come back and keep proving to people that I can play baseball."

How Giants outfield suddenly became team strength after dismal 2018

How Giants outfield suddenly became team strength after dismal 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have lost 13 of their last 16 games at Wrigley Field, averaging exactly three runs per game. So in many ways, Tuesday's 5-3 loss fit right in with what you've watched in recent years. 

But there was something about the performance that was still relatively new and encouraging. 

The first two runs came on an opposite-field homer from Austin Slater. The third came when Kevin Pillar yanked a Cole Hamels pitch deep into the bleachers in left, giving him 18 for the season. 

Pillar's homer was the 60th of the season by a Giants outfielder, which already far exceeds last year's total of 44. Giants outfielders, led by Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski, have 23 homers in the second half alone. They have come a long, long way from 2018, and even from the first half of this season. 

"We weren't getting a lot of production from the outfield in the early going, and you look at what we're doing now. Whoever I put out in the outfield, they're doing a great job, they're defending and doing damage with the bat," manager Bruce Bochy said over the weekend. "All that production that you need from the outfield, we're getting it now."

Bochy is getting so much from his current quartet that the Giants don't currently have room for Jaylin Davis, who has nine homers in 16 games since joining Triple-A Sacramento. For now the staff is leaning heavily on Pillar, who plays just about every inning, Yastrzemski and Slater. Alex Dickerson helped turn the season around in June, and while he has struggled since returning from an oblique injury, Dickerson's OPS as a Giant remains above 1.100. 

Ask Bochy about his outfielders, though, and it's not just the offense that stands out. After years of subpar defense in center and infielders getting time in left, the Giants have solidified their outfield defense. 

They're second in the NL with 27 outfield assists and second with 22 Defensive Runs Saved. That's 26 DRS better than last year's outfield. The defensive component gets folded into Wins Above Replacement, and that's the clearest way to show the differences year over year. 

[RELATED: Cueto lasts 60 pitches in rehab start, close to Giants return]

Last year's outfield combined for 0.1 WAR. This year's is already at 4.0 WAR, even with a number of DFA'd players dragging down the overall numbers. In the second half, Giants outfielders have accounted for 3.8 WAR, ranking third in the Majors behind just the Yankees and Dodgers. 

"They're solid all-around players who can play the whole game," Bochy said of his current outfielders. "They're guys who have a lot of range out there and get good reads. They know how to play the game."