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Dickerson aims to take advantage of opportunity

SAN DIEGO -- When Corey Dickerson is in the Rockies' batting order, it's in a prominent place. Dickerson has been mostly absent, though, due to the hot start of Charlie Blackmon, as both are left-handed-hitting center fielders. Plus there's the fact the regular corner outfielders are All-Stars Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

But Dickerson was in the key third spot -- in place of Gonzalez, who has a .138 career average and 13 strikeouts in 29 at-bats against Padres starter Ian Kennedy -- for Thursday's finale of a four-game series against the Padres.

Just once this season has Dickerson had more than one plate appearance in any game. The club optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs on April 7 for at-bats, then recalled him Monday. He entered Thursday hitting .143 (1-for-7) with two walks and two strikeouts. But he hit .344 in Spring Training, and .385 during the stint in Colorado Springs.

As manager Walt Weiss said, Dickerson "could hit on Christmas morning."

"I've always hit, and always hit high in the order," Dickerson said. "My numbers coming up speak for themselves. I don't know why that should change now just because I've had a few days off. I feel confident in my abilities. It's just a normal game to me."

Weiss used Dickerson in the third slot 11 times last season, when he batted .263 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 69 games. Dickerson hit .246 from the No. 3 spot.

Weiss noted that his manager with the Braves, Bobby Cox, sometimes used a backup in the same lineup slot as the starter. Such a strategy not only keeps everyone else in place, but it gives confidence to the player inserted.

"Corey sees himself as a dynamic offensive player, and I think that confirms it in his mind when he sees himself hitting third in the lineup," Weiss said.

The Rockies' roster structure simply works against Dickerson. The lineup has an abundance of left-handers to face righty pitching. When a lefty is on the mound, those have been the opportunities to use right-handed hitters Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes. So Dickerson, 24, has to be patient at a point in his career when he has done his part to deserve playing time.

"I like to look at myself as a spark plug who can pick my teammates up," Dickerson said. "Not playing every day, things might not go right for you, but the one thing you can control is your attitude.

"My career is in a limbo stage right now. I'm happy to be where I am right now, but I know I'll be an everyday player. My time is coming. I feel like I'm ready now, but it's not how it works right now. I just have to be ready."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.
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