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'Solidified' Bucs embrace Dickerson move

Pirates discuss impact of adding left fielder, who will join team next week after birth of son
MLB.com @adamdberry

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Corey Dickerson didn't join his new team on Friday. Nor was he with his old team, the Rays, at Charlotte Sports Park. Around the time on Thursday that Dickerson learned he'd been traded to the Pirates, his wife gave birth to a baby boy in Mississippi.

The Bucs are excited about the newest member of their family, too.

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Corey Dickerson didn't join his new team on Friday. Nor was he with his old team, the Rays, at Charlotte Sports Park. Around the time on Thursday that Dickerson learned he'd been traded to the Pirates, his wife gave birth to a baby boy in Mississippi.

The Bucs are excited about the newest member of their family, too.

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Video: Rays trade Corey Dickerson to the Pirates

"We're a better team," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It makes everybody a little bit better. It makes that starting lineup a better lineup. It makes our bench a better bench, whatever five are on the bench that day. There's more depth. We added another level of depth to our team as well."

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When he reports to Pirates camp, Dickerson will take over as Pittsburgh's primary left fielder. The acquisition cost the Pirates reliever Daniel Hudson, infield prospect Tristan Gray and $1 million, but it brought clarity to their outfield picture and added another powerful left-handed bat to their lineup.

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"There was a question mark about what was going to go down and who's going to play where. That kind of solidified what we're going to do with the outfield," first baseman Josh Bell said. "Definitely excited to have that thunderous bat in the lineup, that overall presence in the lineup. Definitely excited for it."

The move was well-received throughout the Bucs' clubhouse. When David Freese found out on Saturday that Dickerson had been surprisingly designated for assignment by the Rays, he saw an opportunity for the Pirates to upgrade their roster.

"The guy can hit. He's going to help us," Freese said. "Throw him out in left. He's got some thump. Seems like he's got a little edge to him. We're all excited he's coming aboard."

Video: Pirates executive VP and GM on adding Corey Dickerson

Freese said it was important for the Pirates to "solidify" their regular lineup: catcher Francisco Cervelli, first baseman Bell, second baseman Josh Harrison, shortstop Jordy Mercer, third baseman Colin Moran and an outfield of Dickerson, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. The trickle-down effect also strengthens their bench, which now includes Freese, Sean Rodriguez, Adam Frazier, Elias Diaz and another spot that's up for grabs.

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The move essentially cost Frazier a starting job, as he figured to receive a lot of playing time in left field. But the super-utility man had no complaints. Just the opposite, in fact.

"Big addition to our lineup, for sure. He's a power threat," Frazier said. "He's a great player, so I'm happy to have him. ... The first few days [of Spring Training], I was [practicing] exclusively in left. Back to infield action and just being ready to contribute like I have been this past year and a half."

A deep, talented bench is important for Hurdle as he rests and rotates players through the lineup. He tries to keep reserves sharp at the plate by giving them more frequent playing time, whether it's pinch-hitting appearances or occasional starts. Frazier, for instance, began last season in a reserve role and wound up accruing 454 plate appearances.

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"Things happen. It feels like I started more than I came off the bench," Frazier said. "You've got to be ready. Anything can happen at any time. That's why we prepare each day, especially here in spring, to get ready for what might come."

The Pirates expect Dickerson to report to Spring Training on Monday, but they won't rush him away from his family.

"They already had their due date," Hurdle said, grinning. "I don't have a due date."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Corey Dickerson, Adam Frazier