One of the responsibilities laid at the feet of new third base coach Bobby Dickerson will be working with the infielders. He spent the past three seasons as the Orioles’ minor league infield coordinator, so the task shouldn’t trip him up.
Manager Buck Showalter noted last week that Dickerson did an outstanding job assisting rookie Manny Machado in the transition from shortstop to third base. Machado made only two starts at the hot corner with Double-A Bowie, but he took countless ground balls there before the Orioles selected his contract on Aug. 9.
Dickerson tried to be discreet to avoid bringing too much attention to Machado.
“It was kind of under wraps,” Dickerson said during a phone interview on the “Hot Stove Baseball” show on WBAL Radio. “The way we went about it, we tried to have multiple guys go over to third base so it didn’t look like it was just Manny. I would have early work with a couple of guys. Jonathan Schoop would be over there and we would do drills and stuff.”
Machado looked like a natural at third. He played every inning after joining the Orioles and committed five errors for the fifth-best fielding percentage (.967) in the American League at the position. One of the errors was bogus and should have been overturned.
From opening day through Aug. 8, Orioles third basemen combined for 24 errors and were last in the majors with a .914 fielding percentage. Machado stabilized the position and keyed the Orioles’ defensive resurgence despite his youth and inexperience.
“I’d love to take all the credit. Manny is just a heck of a player,” Dickerson said. “He grabbed things so quickly. You say it once and he got it. It’s just a testament to him. And a bunch of other people helped out. Denny Hocking did nice job. Gary Kendall, Brian Graham. When he first signed, he was with Ryan Minor, who was a third baseman with the Orioles.
“It’s been an organizational development and it’s nice to be part of it. My job was to put the plan in place, and the guys helped me execute it.”
Dickerson also will work with Chris Davis at first base. Davis will be the regular unless executive vice president Dan Duquette brings in someone else.
“I think he’s athletic. I think he has a chance to really be a plus defender,” Dickerson said.
“When you start talking about raising the bar defensively, it’s the ability to play each pitch. That’s the toughest part all of us faced, playing pitch-to-pitch no matter what’s going on in the ballgame, no matter what happened at the plate.
“His hands and feet work right. He’s got an arm. He’s got an accurate arm. I think there’s a chance he can be a plus defender at first base.”