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Dickerson making case for leadoff role

Special to MLB.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- As the Rays continue to look for a consistent presence at the top of the order, outfielder Corey Dickerson has taken advantage of the opportunities to get extra at-bats this spring and put together a strong audition for the role.

Dickerson went 1-for-3 in Tuesday's 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Yankees and is hitting .333 this spring. He hit his second home run of the spring in the fifth inning off Yankees reliever Adam Warren on a 3-0 count.

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TAMPA, Fla. -- As the Rays continue to look for a consistent presence at the top of the order, outfielder Corey Dickerson has taken advantage of the opportunities to get extra at-bats this spring and put together a strong audition for the role.

Dickerson went 1-for-3 in Tuesday's 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Yankees and is hitting .333 this spring. He hit his second home run of the spring in the fifth inning off Yankees reliever Adam Warren on a 3-0 count.

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"He threw me a fastball," Dickerson said. "It was coming in hard and I able to get the bat on it."

The show of power is nice, but Dickerson will have to cut down on the 134 strikeouts he amassed last season and go deeper into the count on a regular basis if he hopes to be a regular leadoff hitter. He'll also have to improve against lefties, against whom he has a .244/.290/.354 career slash line.

Still, this spring has been a good start toward improving in all those areas, and Dickerson enjoyed the opportunity to face Yankees lefty CC Sabathia on Tuesday.

"You have to hit both [lefties and righties] during the season," Dickerson said. "The lefties get you to stand in there a little longer and see the ball a little deeper."

Overall, Dickerson said he would like to be the Rays' regular leadoff man and get the extra at-bats that come with the role. During the spring, he's getting deeper into counts and "seeing everything a pitcher has to offer".

Dickerson doesn't want to change too much of his approach, and the Rays like to have power at the top of the order, as Logan Forsythe had 20 home runs out of the leadoff position in 2016.

"I'm seeing a lot of pitches right now and that's good," Dickerson said. "I can be aggressive, but I don't have to always be aggressive. I like batting first, I like the chess match that comes with it and I look forward to that."

Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays