ATLANTA -- Corey Dickerson, his left foot strapped into a protective black boot, used a pair of crutches Tuesday afternoon to limp into the visiting clubhouse at SunTrust Park.
He had been one of the Phillies’ hottest hitters since the team acquired him at the trade deadline, but Dickerson learned Monday that his season was over with 14 games remaining. His left foot, which the Phillies thought was just bruised, was fractured.
The Phillies’ playoff hopes were already dim before they arrived for a three-game series with Atlanta, but those chances become even slimmer without Dickerson, who has a .886 OPS in 34 games since coming from the Pirates.
“I was feeling good,” Dickerson said. “I really figured out a lot with my swing this year. I had a lot of people help me and definitely wanted to keep building off that. But it’s something nice to know that I have and keep building off next year.”
Dickerson said he hopes his navicular fracture heals on its own and he can avoid surgery. If not, the injury could complicate his offseason as the 30-year-old will become a free agent in November for the first time in his career. Dickerson hit .304 with a .565 slugging percentage this season in 78 games with the Phillies and Pirates.
Dickerson said he would love to return to the Phillies, but the team might not have regular playing time for him. Andrew McCutchen is expected to be ready for spring training after tearing his ACL and Bryce Harper will be in the second year of his 13-year contract. Dickerson, unless another move was made, would have to be an extra outfielder.
“Just evaluating Corey, you’re talking about a guy that can play a quality left field, probably a quality right field, too. Runs the bases hard, shows up every day ready to play, prepared and has made real adjustments with his swing. And continues to make his adjustments with his swing,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He peels back layers when he’s evaluating himself, so I think for that reason he is striking out less and for that reason he’s able to get to the pitch at the top of the zone that he was struggling with previously, and so far, this is kind of a smaller sample size, but since he’s been with the Phillies has hit left-handed pitching, hit home runs off lefties … he’s kind of been a good all-around baseball player. And that’s a pretty attractive profile.”
Dickerson broke his foot on Sept. 4 when he fouled a ball off his cleat in Cincinnati. He left that game, but returned to the lineup the next day. Dickerson played in the next six games, battling to play through the pain as the team tried to chase down a wild-card race. He’s a “tough customer,” Kapler said.
But the pain peaked last week when he was unable to run to first base after grounding out. Dickerson’s X-rays were negative, but he still had trouble just tying his cleats. He underwent more testing on Monday and a CT scan revealed a fracture.
“There were days where I didn’t really feel it throughout the day too much just walking around,” Dickerson said. “And then there were days I had trouble walking to the bathroom. But every time I strapped on the cleats and really tied them up, just the sprints before the game were pretty close to unbearable. I talked myself into playing and grinding it out. I didn’t want to throw any teammates under the bus once I got out there -- to surprise them, like you have to play now. I tried to fulfill my duty once I agreed to play. It is what it is.”