BRADENTON, Fla. -- At first, the call confused Corey Dickerson. Rays general manager Erik Neander called to inform Dickerson that Tampa Bay had acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels. Dickerson figured he had been traded, but a trade to Anaheim didn't seem like a good fit.Then came the
BRADENTON, Fla. -- At first, the call confused Corey Dickerson. Rays general manager Erik Neander called to inform Dickerson that Tampa Bay had acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels. Dickerson figured he had been traded, but a trade to Anaheim didn't seem like a good fit.
Then came the news: The Rays designated Dickerson for assignment. He was in baseball limbo, bound for either a trade or his release. Coming off an All-Star season, Dickerson went home and had to explain the move to family and friends who wondered if the designation meant he wasn't good enough.
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Dickerson received much better news on Thursday. Early in the day, he learned the Pirates traded for him and intended to make him their primary left fielder. A few hours later, at 5:58 p.m. ET, his wife, Beth Anne, gave birth to their second son, Miller. Not a bad turnaround, right?
"It turned out to be one of the best days of our family's life," he said.
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With the whirlwind week behind him, Dickerson reported to Pirates camp on Monday morning.
"Whenever it finally happened, I was just excited," he said. "All I'm worried about is competing. I'm a very competitive person. I always try to turn the page quickly."
That didn't take the sting out of being designated for assignment, however. After getting in better shape before the 2017 season, Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 homers in 150 games for the Rays and made the American League All-Star team. He wondered if he might be traded, as Tampa Bay stated a plan to cut payroll, but he figured he was safe when he reported to Spring Training. Dickerson even reported early, hoping to get ahead while knowing he'd have to take some time off to be with his pregnant wife.
"It's hard to stomach," Dickerson said. "At the time, I was caught off guard."
So were the Pirates.
"That was a little shocking that he was even in that situation," second baseman Josh Harrison said. "He can hit, man. That's a good bat to add."
Dickerson brings a powerful left-handed bat to the Pirates' lineup. But there will be questions about his defense, particularly given the size of PNC Park's left field. He was unconcerned, however, pointing to his past experience patrolling Coors Field's spacious outfield.
"A lot of guys have their spray charts and their tendencies where they like to hit," Dickerson said. "If you position yourself right, when you position yourself ready for each pitch to play, I don't think I'll have any problem."
Dickerson thinks he's healthy enough to handle a full season in the outfield. He dealt with plantar fasciitis in 2015, and though he stayed off the disabled list, he played through back tightness in '16 before dropping 25 pounds prior to the '17 season. But that workout program did not involve much heavy lifting, and Dickerson said the fatigue caught up to him, as he hit .241/.282/.408 in the second half.
This past week, Dickerson stayed sharp by hitting and throwing at Meridian Community College in Mississippi, his alma mater. He likely won't join the Pirates' lineup for a few days, at least, but he was on the field at LECOM Park for Monday's workout, wearing his black No. 12 jersey and excited for another new start.
"I'm ready to turn the page. I know what I can do," Dickerson said. "I'm not going to try to be anybody else. I'm just going to try to play my game and help this organization win."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.