Chris Dickerson is on his way to Boston to join the Orioles and the news is straight from the source.
Why Dickerson is joining the team has yet to be announced which almost certainly means that the player he is replacing has yet to be informed of the decision. Rich Durboff of CSN Baltimore speculates that Dickerson will replace Steve Pearce on the Orioles 25-man roster. Pearce is off to a slow start at the plate, drawing only one walk and no hits in his first 11 plate appearances with five strikeouts. Pearce beat out Conor Jackson for the final 25-man roster spot in Spring Training.
On the surface, the potential move appears reasonable. The plan to start the season was to platoon Wilson Betemit and a right-handed hitter at designated hitter. When Betemit went down with a PCL injury, the plan changed to Nolan Reimold, Pearce, and Ryan Flaherty sharing at bats at DH. Brian Roberts is now out for about a month which will force Flaherty into service more often at second base, especially against right-handed pitching.
This has left the Orioles with only right-handed hitting options at designated hitter. While that is generally not a big concern because Nolan Reimold shows no discernible platoon splits, the Orioles need a fall back option for Reimold and they do not necessarily want to run Reimold out there in the DH spot every day. On Monday Reimold sat out with hamstring tightness and Pearce was forced to face a right-handed starter which is not putting Pearce in the best situation to succeed. Given the current makeup of the rest of the roster, it makes sense to have a left-handed bat on the bench for situations just like Monday.
Dickerson also allows the Orioles to use Reimold primarily at designated hitter for the time being as he deals with the hamstring tightness and any other potentially lingering injuries. As discussed on the Orioles Observer Radio podcast recorded yesterday, the Orioles have struggled to get production from the designated hitter spot this season.
505 of Dickerson’s 599 career Major League plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching. He has fared well with a batting line of .269/.354/.424. He also holds is own against LHP (albeit with a big drop in power) with a slash line of .253/.344/.316 in 94 PA’s.
Dickerson will likely get some playing time at DH against right-handed pitching. This will allow Nolan Reimold to be used off the bench in those situations as a potential pinch hitter for Dickerson, Nate Mclouth, or Flaherty if opposing teams attempt to match up late in the game. If Dickerson does replace Pearce on the roster today, I would expect him to start tonight against right-hander Ryan Dempster. In three plate appearances against Dempster, Dickerson has doubled once. Chris recorded three hits and two walks in 17 plate appearances with Norfolk before being recalled.
Perhaps the bigger news here is Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette on not joking around when they state that if a player does not get the job done the team will look to other options. Pearce had an impressive spring and the Orioles might be pulling the plug on him after just a few games. The veteran journeyman is also out of options and one would think a team will claim Pearce is he is indeed placed on waivers. The message is clear that moves will be made based on what management feels will give the team the best shot to win and little else.
Thinking a few moves ahead, when the Orioles eventually go back to a four-man bench – and I would expect that to happen at some point – a right-handed hitter such as Jackson or Russ Canzler is the likely call up. When Roberts returns from the disabled list, Ryan Flaherty would then be the logical choice to be sent down, assuming Dickerson and either Jackson or Canzler are producing. This would give the Orioles a bench of Taylor Teagarden, Dickerson, Jackson/Canzler, and Alexi Casilla which feels like a good mix. There are two right-handers, one left-hander, and one switch hitter in that group that would also be able to cover all positions defensively.UPDATED, 4/10/13, 5:30 PM ET: The Orioles announced earlier this afternoon that Luis Ayala was traded to the Braves for AA-pitcher, Chris Jones. Chris Dickerson was added to the 25-man roster to replace Ayala. Steve Pearce remains on the roster.