Dickerson making case with brilliant defense

Dickerson making case with brilliant defense

Dickerson making case with brilliant defense
PHOENIX -- It only took one camera to fill the highlight reel for the Brewers on Saturday, and that camera was trained on center fielder Chris Dickerson.

A prime candidate to be the fourth outfielder on the Opening Day roster, Dickerson made three key run-saving plays in a row in the ninth and 10th innings of a game that ended in a 6-6 tie with the Dodgers.

With the go-ahead runner on second base and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Dickerson fielded a single and made a rocket of a throw to catcher Mike Rivera to nab the runner in a close play at the plate.

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"I was playing shallow and I got a good read," Dickerson said. "It was a fading line drive up the middle. I came up with it, and I knew I was going to have to worry, but I came up with a changeup grip, like a palm ball. So I had to double-clutch and get the right grip and just air it out. It was kind of a desperation play.

"My throws were pretty much on line all day. I got that one up in the air, and Mike made a great block. The play doesn't happen without Mike."

That ended the inning, and the next batter up in the 10th sent a towering drive deep, with Dickerson running after it on a collision course with the fence.

"When he hit it, I think both [left fielder Brandon Boggs and I] thought that thing was going to be over the batter's eye," Dickerson said. "Once he hit it, it was high enough to where I just dropped my head and started running in that general direction and adjusting for the wind. It got to that certain point where it's time to look up back at the ball, and I saw it and the wind picked it up and kept carrying it.

"I knew I was getting close, but I didn't know I was that close. It was like a catch and a smash."

The padding was soft enough that his upper body was fine, but Dickerson kicked the lower cement part of the wall with his foot, making him feel like he'd broken all his toe nails. He stayed in the game, and when the next batter walked and stole the base on an errant throw from Rivera, Dickerson was there to back up the throw and keep the runner from advancing.

"He's a good defensive outfielder," said manager Ron Roenicke. "He's a good runner. And when you compare the other guys [competing for the fourth outfielder's spot] with him, that's something you have to look at. That was a great play there [against the wall], and a great throw home."

Dickerson was also 3-for-5 at the plate, raising his average to .313.

"You have to take it in small increments," Dickerson said of his approach this spring. "It's an opportunity to build. You come out here and see where you're at, and then week-to-week build. I finally feel like I'm in a good place. There's more adjustments to make and things that can make me better. That's the main focus right now."