BOSTON - Chris Dickerson has a No. 60 jersey hanging in his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park. He'd rather lower the digit to something more baseball-like, but at least it's a major league uniform.
Dickerson hopped on a 6 a.m. flight to Boston, his 31st birthday coinciding with his return to the Orioles, who selected his contract (though they still haven't announced it) from Triple-A Norfolk and traded reliever Luis Ayala to the Braves for minor league pitcher Chris Jones.
The story of how Dickerson learned of his promotion from Tides manager Ron Johnson last night is an amusing one.
"I found out when I was walking up to lead off the game," he said. "I thought R.J. was getting way into the technical part of the game and I thought he was like, looking at the third baseman, maybe do this and do this. He kept waving me. He was like, 'Dickey!' I was in the batter's box. I turned around and he waved me back, and I'm like, 'What's up?' And he's like, 'Come here.' I'm like, 'What's up?'
"I'm waiting for him to give me a sign or something. Then he was like, 'No, get off the field. Go pack.' I'm like, 'OK.' It was weird. That's how I found out.
"We got a good laugh about it afterward. Just the worst-case scenario is that you do go up there and something happens. Like, 'No, never mind. I'll tell you later. Go hit.' And then something happens. He probably would have never forgiven himself. It was odd."
Dickerson didn't think he had been traded. Instead, he assumed that he had replaced an injured player.
"My first thought after it kind of set in a little bit is they did, in fact, put Nolan (Reimold) on the DL, and apparently it was more serious than anticipated," Dickerson said. "I'm like, 'OK, fine.' Then I got wind of something else and I just sat and waited it out."
Dickerson never expected to get the call by the eighth game of the season. It only made sense once he learned of the Ayala trade.
"Now that I know it was the Ayala thing and the roster spot finally opened up, I can breathe a little easier now. But it happens," he said.
The Orioles signed Dickerson to a minor league deal on Jan. 29. He agreed to the deal based on the assumption that he'd break camp with the club, which didn't happen.
"When I came in, that was kind of one of the deals that was proposed to me when I talked to Dan (Duquette), is that there was a really good chance that I would make this team. And just having the good spring that I did, I felt I fit in and I would offer a lot to the team," Dickerson said.
"That's one thing you have to do when you go in. You're constantly competing every day in spring training in hopes of earning that spot. When it came down to that last day, it was crushing, but Buck (Showalter) and I talked about it and he said not to be too down about it because you could be back at any time. And he was right."
The Orioles used 52 players last season, so Dickerson figured to eventually get a shot. But he didn't necessarily view it that way while unpacking his bags in Norfolk.
"It's baseball. Anything can happen," he said. "For all we know, everyone could be turned into iron men this year. You don't assume anything, nor do you wish anything, that people get hurt. You want to approach it that the team is going to be as successful and as healthy as possible, so you've just got to kind of wait it out. But I didn't expect this."