Yaz, Dickerson look ready with homers
SAN FRANCISCO -- A pair of transactions that flew under the radar helped bring two key contributors to the Giants last year.
Last March, the Giants sent Minor League right-hander Tyler Herb to the Orioles in exchange for Mike Yastrzemski. Three months later, they shipped Minor League right-hander Franklin Van Gurp to the Padres for Alex Dickerson.
By June, the two outfielders had become valuable pieces of the Giants’ lineup.
Yastrzemski, who spent seven seasons in the Minors before the Giants finally gave him his first chance to break into the big leagues, emerged as a revelation, batting .272 with an .852 OPS and 21 home runs, tied with Kevin Pillar for the team lead. Dickerson’s arrival helped spark the Giants’ 19-6 surge in July, though an oblique injury hampered his productivity for much of the second half. When he was healthy, Dickerson served as a potent bat in the middle of the lineup, hitting .290 with an .880 OPS and six home runs.
As they enter their sophomore seasons with the Giants, Yastrzemski and Dickerson are eager to continue to build upon their productive 2019 campaigns. The left-handed hitters each homered to help the Giants defeat the A’s, 4-2, in Tuesday night’s exhibition game at Oracle Park, which officially capped the club’s Summer Camp slate.
The next stop for the Giants will be Los Angeles, where they will face off against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Opening Night on Thursday.
Yastrzemski, who went 2-for-2 with a walk, led off the first inning with a shot to right field off A’s right-hander Mike Fiers. Dickerson followed with another homer off Fiers in the second and finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
Yastrzemski, Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria, who is expected to open the season on the injured list, will likely be the only players who come close to playing every day for the Giants this season. The club is projected to form platoons all around the diamond to optimize matchups, but Yastrzemski can play all three outfield positions and posted reverse splits last year, which should give him more opportunities to start than some of his teammates.
“It’s been pretty consistent,” Yastrzemski said during a recent Zoom call with reporters. “I’ve hit lefties well throughout my career. I think it’s a heightened focus and awareness because people put so much kind of pressure on it. You look at right-on-right, that happens all the time and nobody really ever blinks an eye at it. But for some reason, people think it’s a weird thing for a left-on-left matchup. It’s something that I just tried to focus on and make sure that I stayed away from that situation. Given where we are with our lineup and everything, I’m ready to do what we need to do.”
Dickerson will likely split time with Hunter Pence in left field, though he could also draw at-bats at designated hitter, which should help the Giants manage his workload and guard against the injuries that have held him back earlier in his career. Gabe Kapler remembers managing against Dickerson with the Phillies last July and being acutely aware of the damage he could inflict.
“We saw him as especially dangerous against right-handed pitching,” Kapler said. “We had to have left-handed pitching ready for him. We were aware of his health history, and now, our No. 1 concern is making sure we keep him healthy. We think if Alex Dickerson is healthy, he’s a very, very dangerous weapon against right-handed pitching.”
• Second baseman Yolmer Sánchez departed the game after two innings due to back tightness. Kapler deemed the move precautionary and said the Giants don’t have concerns about Sánchez’s availability for Opening Night.
• Nine Giants pitchers combined to hold the A’s to only two hits on Tuesday. Both came off left-hander Conner Menez, who surrendered a pair of runs in the second inning. Tyler Rogers, Rule 5 Draft pick Dany Jiménez, Wandy Peralta, Andrew Suárez, Sam Coonrod, Andrew Triggs, Sam Selman and Sam Wolff pitched a scoreless inning apiece.