Search

A Healthy Chance DL denizen Jermaine Dye, at last injury-free, is flourishing in K.C.

June 07, 1999
June 07, 1999

Table of Contents
June 7, 1999

Faces In The Crowd

A Healthy Chance DL denizen Jermaine Dye, at last injury-free, is flourishing in K.C.

Jermaine Dye hit a home run in his first major league at bat, in
1996, and played in the World Series that fall as a rookie with
the Braves. Since then, however, Dye, now the Royals'
rightfielder, has seen his career path take a few twists--not to
mention strains and tears. "Everybody in this game evaluates
tendencies," says Kansas City manager Tony Muser. "A guy has a
tendency to hit lefties. A guy has a tendency to steal. Jermaine
had a tendency to get hurt."

This is an article from the June 7, 1999 issue Original Layout

Dye's Job-like streak began after the 1996 season, during which
he filled in for an injured David Justice and hit .281 with 12
home runs in 292 at bats for Atlanta. Dye was traded to the
Royals the next spring. Twelve games into the season Dye's
severely bruised left foot, which he first injured early in
spring training, put him out of action. Disabled list for 16
days. He returned to hit .236 in 75 games that season but not
before straining his right quadriceps in early July. Disabled
list for 41 days. Last year he reported to spring training in
what he termed the best shape of his life, only to strain his
left quadriceps. Disabled list for 38 days. Dye spent five weeks
at Triple A Omaha before returning to Kansas City. Then, on Aug.
31, he twisted his right knee while getting into his car after
shopping at Wal-Mart and tore cartilage. Disabled list for the
remainder of the season (27 days). "There were more tough times
than good times," Dye says. "All I wanted was a chance to play
healthy."

He may finally be getting it. In the first week of April the
Royals traded Jeff Conine to the Orioles, giving Dye, 25, the
full-time rightfield job. He has responded by hitting .309 with a
team-high 11 home runs and 33 RBIs through Sunday. More
impressive has been his defense. The last two years, nagged by
injuries, Dye was unpredictable and, at times, sloppy in the
outfield. This year, through Sunday, he had only two errors and
led the American League with seven outfield assists. He has come
through with a series of dramatic plays, including, on April 10,
a diving grab of a deep fly by the White Sox' Frank Thomas into
the gap in right center with one out and two on in the seventh
inning and the Royals ahead 7-3. Says Muser, "He's improved 100
percent."

Dye grew up north of Oakland. His father, Bill, worked in San
Francisco, driving a city bus back and forth between downtown
and Candlestick Park. During games, father and son would get
general admission seats and watch the Giants play. "That's how I
really got into baseball," Jermaine says. "It was a chance to
see the players up close." His favorite was power-hitting
outfielder Chili Davis. Dye liked Davis's style--stoic,
completely professional. After playing basketball, baseball and
football at Will C. Wood High in Vacaville, Calif., and
concentrating on baseball for one year at Cosumnes River
College, a J.C. in Sacramento, Dye was selected by Atlanta in
the 17th round of the 1993 draft. He was tall and lanky at 6'4"
and 195 pounds but unusually strong. There was some debate over
where he would play. In high school and college he had been
mainly a pitcher. "That's where I thought I had a future," Dye
says. "I had a fastball, a slider and a changeup. I bet I can
still get guys out."

Things don't always go as expected. Sometimes you become an
outfielder. Sometimes you're a rookie playing in the World
Series. Sometimes you simply step into a car the wrong way.

--Jeff Pearlman

COLOR PHOTO: TOM DIPACE