Dickerson has ligament sprain; surgery possible

Padres' right-handed hitters star vs. southpaw Bumgarner

March 7th, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres outfielder Alex Dickerson was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow and will be out indefinitely as he mulls the possibility of surgery.
The club seems hopeful that Tommy John elbow reconstruction won't be necessary for Dickerson, who sustained the injury during throwing drills early in camp. But even if he chooses to rehab the injury, Dickerson is likely to miss the first month of the season and possibly more.
Spring Training information
"We're trying to work through what the appropriate path is at this point in time," said Padres manager Andy Green. "We have options -- the rehab option, the surgery option. He's just processing that information right now. ... Obviously, it's very disappointing. He wants to play, and he's been through a lot, so it wouldn't shock me if he chooses the rehab path."
Dickerson missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing surgery for a bulging disk in his back. Though the two injuries are unrelated, they raise long-term concerns about Dickerson's health.
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In parts of two seasons with San Diego in 2015 and '16, Dickerson batted .257/.331/.448. In the best-case scenario, the Padres envisioned Dickerson as a legitimate threat in the middle of their order. At the very least, he was a solid left-handed power threat.
But Dickerson hasn't taken the field since his back began barking last spring. Surgery could set him back yet another year.
Of course, Dickerson is not a pitcher, meaning he's not the prototypical candidate for Tommy John surgery. Green noted that his status as an outfielder means it's likelier that Dickerson won't require surgery.
"Alex Dickerson's strength has never been the arm," Green said. "Literally, if he can get the ball to the cutoff man, he's the kind of guy who would take a chance at it and try to see if he can play.
"But also, when you swing, you use your elbow, too. If it affects his swing, he can't really perform with it. He'll have to sort through these things in the coming weeks."
Since being shut down in February, Dickerson has yet to resume swinging, and it's unclear how significantly the injury would affect him at the plate.
Righty platoon on display?
Playing in the National League West, the Padres will face their share of big-time left-handers this season. The division includes , , Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Robbie Ray and .
San Diego appears to be developing a counterpunch. Against Bumgarner on Wednesday, the Padres scored two fourth-inning runs courtesy of three right-handed hitters who have consistently torched left-handed pitching.
smashed a one-out triple, and and followed with a pair of doubles. Take a look at their numbers against lefties last season:
Pirela: .305/.367/.561
Renfroe: .316/.392/.684
Villanueva: 5-for-13, two homers
Green said it was no coincidence all three started Wednesday's 4-4 tie with San Francisco. was the only lefty hitter to start against Bumgarner.
"We wanted to take a lineup that kind of could be facing Madison Bumgarner this year and see what that lineup could do," said Green. "... If these are guys that make the club, this is a lineup you definitely could see."
Camp battles
• Robbie Erlin allowed a run over 2 2/3 innings while striking out four in his Cactus League debut. The left-hander made his first appearance of the spring in a "B" game last week. He's looked sharp in both outings, as he vies for a spot in the starting rotation. Erlin, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2016 Tommy John surgery, returned to full health last fall and pitched in instructional ball before being shut down for the winter.
• Along with Erlin, right-hander is one of seven pitchers fighting for three places at the back of the Padres' rotation. He started Wednesday, allowing two first-inning runs before settling in for three frames. Ross surrendered two runs on four hits with one strikeout.
• Dusty Coleman has an uphill climb for a roster spot as a backup infielder. But he made a nice case Wednesday, launching a game-tying homer in the ninth before making an impressive play at shortstop in the bottom of the frame to keep the game tied.
Up next
and are candidates for both the rotation and the bullpen, and both will pitch Thursday when the Padres head to Mesa to face the Cubs at 12:05 p.m. PT. It's an especially eventful day in the race for relief spots, with fringe candidates Buddy Baumann, and also slated to pitch.