Snapping HR drought a relief for Dickerson

Rays designated hitter goes deep for the first time since July 29

August 14th, 2016

NEW YORK -- has been in a funk.
Prior to Sunday's game, Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters how hard the designated hitter has been working to find his way out of the dark. Fortunately for Tampa Bay and Dickerson, the much-anticipated light appeared through the clouds during the 12-3 win over the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
Dickerson entered the game mired in an 0-for-17 stretch that had dropped his average to .221. On top of that, he'd struck out in five of his previous six at-bats and had not hit a home run since July 29, when he went deep against Yankees starter in a 5-1 win at Tropicana Field.
Putting his recent offensive struggles into the rearview mirror, Dickerson struck the big blow Sunday when he homered on the first pitch he saw from in the fourth.
"Felt like relief off my shoulders for sure," Dickerson said. "Knowing that you can just kind of take a step back and trust yourself instead of force something. That's too hard to do up here. Just relax, have fun and play the game. No matter how hard it is, you have to see the baseball and have a good approach."
The three-run blast ignited a six-run inning that put the Rays up 8-1.
"To me, that's the biggest at-bat of the game right there," Cash said. "And he came through. Sac fly would have been great, but he hit the ball out of the ballpark. ... It's nice when you put the work in and get some immediate results. Today was a real positive result."
Hitting coach Derek Shelton cited plate discipline as the culprit in Dickerson's slump.
"I think he's tried to do a little too much and gone outside the zone," Shelton said. "So, if we can get him in the zone, because when he gets the ball in the zone and hits the ball -- even his last at-bat ... two-strike deficit against a left-hander and squared the ball up right to the second baseman. I think if we can keep him in the zone, the better off he'll be."
How does a hitting coach try to get one of his hitters to be more disciplined?
"It's more just talking about it," Shelton said. "We've done some drills on his swing and talked about the focus of his approach."
Dickerson walked in his first at-bat of the game, of which Shelton noted: "I thought [the walk] was really important for him. ... The first AB for me was probably the most encouraging because he did not chase outside of the zone."
Dickerson spoke about the difficulty of busting out of a slump, particularly when the root of the problem is plate discipline.
"I think it's more whenever you dig yourself into a hole early, you want to try and fix something," Dickerson said. "Do something about it instead of taking a step back and play the game, see the baseball, let the game come to you.
"I think that's the hardest part, because if you're not trying, it feels like you're not trying to fix it. It really comes down to pitch selection, letting your ability take over, swing at strikes and see good pitches, and that's what I'm trying to do."
Prior to his slump, Dickerson was on an upswing, hitting .294 with two home runs and seven RBIs in July, which gave the appearance he was crawling out from his slow start to the season.
"That's the thing," Dickerson said. "You can climb, and then you can go for an O-fer and it's something you feel like maybe it's your swing. Usually it's not your swing, it's your pitch selection."