Braves outfielder Alex Dickerson hopes his luck turns soon

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

At one point during Sunday’s game against the Reds, Braves manager Brian Snitker jokingly told Alex Dickerson he should try to hit a ball with the handle of his bat.

After all, Dickerson wasn’t experiencing any luck with the barrel.

Entering Monday’s game against the Nationals, Dickerson was 0-for-9. That’s rather deceiving because the left-handed hitter has put together some great at-bats.

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Dickerson had two 100-mph lineouts, and a 101-mph lineout, during the four-game series against the Reds, according to Baseball Savant.

What was going through his head?

“Ah, nothing really,” Dickerson said Monday. “I’m old enough, I’ve been around long enough to know if the ball hits the bat and feels good off of it, that’s all you can control and that’s what you should be happy about because that eventually produces in the long run.

“Really wasn’t all that disappointed. Kind of laughing it off. It does (stink) when it’s the first series of the year and you’re like, ‘Wow, I could have three or four hits.’ Sometimes, those first ones are always the ones that are irritating, but it is what it is.”

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Dickerson, who turns 32 in May, said he evaluates how he felt when hitting a ball more than the exit velocity.

“Every now and then, you want to take a look and go, ‘Oh, OK, did I hit that hard and I got out?’ You know how you hit it, for the most part,” he said. “Exit velocity, you’re splitting hairs a lot of times. People get obsessed with 105 versus 108 to 113. If you hit it hard, you hit it hard.”

And he has hit a few balls hard. Those should eventually find grass.

Dickerson, who had a walk and three strikeouts through the club’s first four games, is feeling well. He’s received consistent at-bats in the designated hitter slot, which should continue at least until Ronald Acuña returns (probably in May).

“I feel like I’ve gone in, I’ve been getting myself back into counts when I’ve fallen behind and hit the ball hard, just had zero to show for it,” he said. “It’s baseball. It’s going to happen. … It’s just the reality of it.”

In March, the Braves signed Dickerson to a non-guaranteed, major-league contract worth $1 million. He still needed to make the team, even if his chances seemed favorable because he’s a left-handed batter who balances the roster.

He can also play in the outfield, if necessary. He said he’s a bit more comfortable in left field than right. (He’s played left field 242 times in the bigs and has played in right field only six times.)

But he’s on this roster for his bat. His best offensive seasons came in 2019 (.820 on-base plus slugging percentage) and 2020 (.947 OPS). He struggled a bit with the Giants last year but still homered 13 times.

Dickerson has recorded good at-bats for the Braves thus far.

Now he’s waiting for that to be reflected in the outcomes.

“The law of averages in this game will work out,” Snitker said.

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Manny Piña gets start

Backup catcher Manny Piña, who was dealing with a sore wrist, received the start Monday. He is all good.

After the shortened spring, Travis d’Arnaud caught three of four games to begin the season.

“We got to keep this guy upright throughout the course of the year,” Snitker said of d’Arnaud. “There are going to be a whole lot of games for him to catch, and I just don’t want to get carried away with too big of a workload coming out of spring training where they’ve never had a back-to-back, and then he just caught three out of four.”

No sixth starter yet

Snitker didn’t announce a starter for Tuesday’s game versus Washington. He said the Braves were waiting to see how they came out of Monday’s contest before deciding on an arm to throw the series’ second game.

One option could be lefty Tucker Davidson, who didn’t pitch in the four games against the Reds. He was the only member of the bullpen to not see any action.

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