Dickerson empathizes with Broncos' Manning

Outfielder endured plantar fasciitis during injury-riddled '15

Dickerson empathizes with Broncos' Manning

DENVER -- Rockies left fielder Corey Dickerson has suddenly become the second-most famous case of plantar fasciitis on the Denver sports scene. But it's a pain he doesn't wish on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Dickerson began experiencing pain in his left heel in Spring Training and endured time on the disabled list -- 23 games in May and June, 29 more in late June and July. A broken rib he sustained on July 30 was in a way fortunate, since it also allowed him to rest the heel for 37 games. He returned Sept. 8 to finish the season.

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Manning, who was listed on the NFL injury report this past week with foot/rib injuries, on Sunday completed just five passes and threw four interceptions before being replaced in a 29-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. On Monday morning, it was reported that Manning was dealing with a partially torn plantar fascia in his right foot. Dickerson, who couldn't burst from the batter's box or take the first big step in the outfield without a tearing sensation or stabbing pain, understands Manning's situation.

"I felt for him," said Dickerson, who managed a .304 batting average, 10 home runs and 31 RBIs in 65 games. "Nobody, from a fan standpoint, knows what it's like to play at the highest level under so much pressure to perform when you're hurting the whole time or trying not to hurt.

"He has to be explosive when he drops back to pass, then you need your legs to throw the ball, so you're pushing off your foot. That's a lot to think about when you're also trying to do the task at hand. In my case, if I'd not been an athlete, I could have lived a normal life and not had therapy. But playing a sport as Peyton does and I do, you have to put on cleats. You have to grip the grass. Your movements are really explosive."

Plantar fasciitis, sometimes called "jogger's heel," is a common condition. Usually, simple rest and a change in activities can promote healing, and conservative treatment plans generally allow patients to achieve pain reduction or elimination. Dickerson chuckled when recalling the letters of advice offered by many well-meaning fans who have been treated in that manner.

"We have a great fan base," he said. "I might have tried some of their suggestions."

But being an athlete the size of Manning (listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds) or Dickerson (6-foot-1 and currently weighing around 215 pounds) and being required to perform at world-class power or speed -- and having a finite season calendar -- eliminates the normal treatment pattern.

"You feel like you're letting the team down if you can't get out there, so you do what you can to deal with the pain," Dickerson said. "It gets to be too much, so you have to be out for a period of time, but you have that mentality that you can get back out there and play."

It wasn't until the offseason, when Dickerson could rest, that true healing occurred. Physical therapy and a concentration on flexibility have helped. About two weeks ago, Dickerson could finally walk Mississippi's beaches without stepping gingerly. He reports he feels good running, but for protection, he visited New York and purchased custom orthotics from a company that serves world-class athletes.

Dickerson said he will be eagerly following the Rockies' offseason moves, although he realizes he could be intimately involved. Being a season short of arbitration with strong offensive numbers -- .312, 24 HRs, 76 RBIs in 131 games in 2014 -- he may be coveted if the Rockies attempt to trade for pitching.

"I love to keep up with it -- like, if a pitcher comes to our division, I want to research him," Dickerson said. "But I try not to think about what could happen with me. I know the Rockies love me and I want to help them win, and if I'm somewhere else, it's because that team wants me. I just want to get myself ready for next year. I can't wait."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.