Looking for help down the stretch, particularly from someone who can contribute strong center field defense if needed, the Orioles are expected to sign 34-year-old Chris Dickerson to a minor league deal today.
Dickerson, who was at Camden Yards on Friday, is batting second and playing center field for the Double-A Bowie Baysox tonight in preparation for a potential call-up in September. He had been a free agent while recovering from left shoulder surgery in June 2015.
“I’m just grateful that an organization has belief in my abilities to call me back in this very exciting time in the season,” Dickerson said. “It’s an organization and team I’ve greatly respected. It was great to see the guys this week and I look forward to being back in an O’s uniform and helping in any way I can.”
The club saw him earlier this season when it was in Los Angeles, and was intrigued by a potential reunion, said Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette.
“He’d go to the minors to get into playing shape,” Duquette said. “He’d be like a fifth outfielder. He can play all the defensive positions in the outfield and contribute some offensively.”
The Orioles continue to look for reserve outfield help with Joey Rickard not due back until September due to a thumb injury.
According to a source, the club had internal discussions about Carlos Gomez, who was given his release by the Houston Astros this week. That doesn’t seem to have much traction. Duquette declined comment on Gomez, a two-time All Star who has struggled mightily in 2016.
A veteran of seven major league seasons, the left-handed hitting Dickerson has not played organized baseball this year. Last season, he batted .270 with a .354 on-base percentage in 38 games with the Toronto Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate.
His last season in the big leagues was in 2014 when he hit .224 with a .309 on-base percentage in 56 games with the Cleveland Indians. He was with the Orioles in 2013, batting .238 with a .266 on-base percentage in 109 plate appearances.
He had two big moments for the Orioles in 2013: The first came May 21, when he homered twice against his former team, the New York Yankees, in a 3-2 Orioles victory. Ten days later against Detroit, Dickerson hit a two-out, three-run, walkoff homer against closer Jose Valverde to cap a four-run, ninth-inning rally.
Currently, the Orioles don’t have a true backup in center field on the 25-man roster for Adam Jones. Nolan Reimold is the only current candidate that can fill-in for Jones, though Julio Borbon, who has been with the big club this season, is at Double-A Bowie and also could get a September call-up.
Rickard (thumb) will not be ready to come off the disabled list by Sept. 1, and manager Buck Showalter said Friday that he could see a scenario where one or more outfielders will be promoted when rosters expand.