Ninety minutes before he was scheduled to play ball Sunday, Giants left fielder Alex Dickerson had to suppress tears as he told reporters the harrowing tale of his false-positive coronavirus test, especially the stress over his wife, who is 39 weeks pregnant.
Forty hours after he was called off the field in San Diego on Friday night to be told he had tested positive, Dickerson still looked shaken, even though multiple subsequent tests came back negative.
The entire Giants traveling party tested negative on Saturday as well, prompting Major League Baseball to let them play a doubleheader Sunday to make up one of the two games against the Padres that were postponed.
“It came as a complete shock,” Dickerson said of the positive test. “At no point did I actually believe it was real. At the same time, you do have those moments of doubt because it hadn’t happened to that point. It didn’t seem to be happening a lot around the league.”
Dickerson, manager Gabe Kapler and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made their first public comments since Friday night’s game was called moments after it was supposed to begin.
They relayed a series of steps taken quickly, with cooperation from the Padres and their medical staff, to initiate further testing and contact tracing to ensure that if Dickerson were positive all of his close contacts could be isolated as he was.
The Giants and Padres were fortunate to have just two games postponed, one to be made up Sunday and another possibly when the Padres visit San Francisco over the final weekend of the regular season. Other teams had to sit from four days to two weeks after positive tests.
But Zaidi said the Giants’ schedule was not foremost on his mind.
“It’s really hard to get beyond the relief from the standpoint of everybody’s health and safety,” Zaidi said. “That’s just the primary concern. It extends beyond just traveling party to their families.”
Dickerson lives in San Diego, as do his parents and wife, Jennifer.
The emotions that poured from the 30-year-old stemmed from two media reports that he said created enormous stress for him and Jennifer.
The first came from a former Fox News reporter who tweeted Friday night that Dickerson was the player who tested positive. Worse, Dickerson said, was a story in USA Today that did not name him but said the player “told several members of the Giants’ traveling party that he believed he was possibly infected by a family member or friend in San Diego.”
Dickerson called that a “false statement that caused my wife to deal with a lot of stuff she did not deserve to deal with.” She was tested in advance and arrived at their hotel room before Alex did.
Dickerson said he was not allowed to see any of his family or friends, and didn’t. In fact, he said, MLB’s COVID regulations might prevent him from attending the birth of his son, expected this week.
“False reporting did happen in my situation,” Dickerson said. “It had an extremely negative effect on me and my family. … It caused a lot of problems. A lot of hate comes toward you. It was kind of unwarranted.”
Dickerson, Zaidi and Kapler detailed the entire timeline for reporters.
Dickerson passed a coronavirus test that allowed him to fly with the team to San Diego late Wednesday night. Another test Thursday morning proved to be the false positive, the news not arriving until just before gametime Friday.
While Dickerson was called off the field and placed into isolation, and the game postponed, Kapler and general manager Scott Harris had to send players into the clubhouse in waves to prevent crowding and the potential for disease transmission, which is why many lingered on the field.
All players, including Dickerson, were isolated in their hotel rooms, but not before he took a rapid test that came back negative. The Giants travel with rapid-test machine and the Padres have one, too, which they loaned to the Giants to help them test everyone quickly.
Dickerson and his wife went to the hospital at the University of California at San Diego on Friday night to be tested. He debated whether to take his wife, but she went to for peace of mind.
“We were asymptomatic even though we were dealing with the stress of everything going on and worrying about her going into labor,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson returned to UCSD for further testing Saturday while the rest of the Giants took saliva tests Saturday morning. Even though those were rushed to a lab, the club did not get results until late Saturday night, which is why Sunday’s doubleheader was not announced until hours before first pitch.
Multiple calls to team physicians and Major League Baseball medical consultants convinced the Giants and Padres they could play safely.
Meanwhile, Zaidi, Harris and Kapler spent two days trying to calm the team with as much information as they could provide.
Said Zaidi: “We learned that communicating with the entire group and keeping them updated on tests results, on when we might be getting back to play, is kind of critical for the morale and making people feel like they’re not out of the loop and even stressed beyond what the situation was causing already.”