Ian Dickson was rushing to meet his girlfriend, Alicia, when he was given a message that he was wanted in the manager's office.
The 22-year-old reliever, a 2008 Northport High School graduate drafted by the Cubs in the 35th round in 2011, was three months into a stint with the Class A Kane County Cougars. A reunion with Alicia, who was making her first visit of the season to the far Chicago suburbs, would have to wait.
Most popular baseball stories
He opened manager Mark Johnson's door June 11 and was startled by the crowd packed into the room. "I was caught off guard,'' he said. "I didn't really know what was going on."
It didn't take long for Dickson to find out. He had been traded to the n Nationals' organization for major-league pitcher Henry Rodriguez.
Later on, Dickson would reflect on how exciting it was to be traded straight up for major-league talent. But for now, it was about saying goodbye to his teammates.
He was off to Hagerstown, Md., one of Washington's Class A affiliates, and there wasn't a lot of time to sign yearbooks and chat about the good times.
When Dickson left the manager's office, he said, his teammates still were milling around the clubhouse, waiting to hear what fate had befallen him. Trades, though commonplace to some players, were not something Dickson had any experience with.
"It was totally out of the blue," he said. "This is my second full year playing and I've never seen a player traded. I've seen guys called up, called down and released, but I've never been in the clubhouse when somebody got traded. It was a shock."
Dickson said his goodbyes and was about to leave and finally find Alicia when Shawn Camp, a big-league reliever who had just begun a rehab assignment, pulled him aside.
Being traded is a good thing, Camp told Dickson.
"He said that the team that was trading for me wanted me and, in this business, it's good to be wanted," Dickson said. "To have him tell me that was very reassuring."
Dickerson got to Maryland the next night, just in time to see his new team win the second game of a doubleheader in walk-off fashion. Four days later, Hagerstown clinched the South Atlantic League North Division first-half title.
Through Friday, Dickson had one save and a 5.87 ERA in four appearances since the trade. He said he has fit in with his new club quickly. A recent seven-game road trip certainly helped.
"That stuff happens pretty fast," he said of jelling with his new teammates. "I'm happy so far. It's been great."