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Dickerson focuses on speed, defense in prep for '14

Potential platoon motivates outfielder to stand out after end of Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A day didn't go by this offseason that Corey Dickerson didn't think about what would be on the line when he reported to Spring Training.

He knew he had a chance to not only earn an Opening Day roster spot with the Rockies, but also a significant one. Dickerson and fellow left-handed-hitting outfielder Charlie Blackmon are competing with right-handed hitters Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes for time in center field.

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Stubbs, who will make $4.1 million this season, figures to be on the Opening Day roster. But he has hit .226 against right-handers throughout his career, so a platoon is likely.

That means either Dickerson or Blackmon -- and possibly both -- will be with the Rockies when they open their season March 31 in Miami.

It's that opportunity that drove Dickerson this winter.

"Through every workout, that was always on my mind," Dickerson said. "It was always motivation. And I've always been a motivational person, so I think I pushed pretty hard this offseason."

Dickerson targeted adding strength and increasing his speed this winter. He bulked up 15 pounds, worked with a speed coach and practiced his outfield routes. Improved defense also has been a focus of Dickerson's the past couple of years, and he said he's ready to take the next step.

"I think I've really improved and handled myself really well out there," Dickerson said. "But I want to be an elite defender. I don't just want to be just an average defender."

The reason Dickerson has been able to spend so much time honing an array of skills is because he possesses a tool the Rockies have no qualms with: his bat.

Dickerson hit .263/.316/.459 with five home runs in 69 games with the Rockies last season and slashed .371/.414/.632 in 75 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

This spring, he entered Monday hitting .381 (8-for-21) with two doubles, a triple and a homer.

"He's a pure hitter and there's impact, extra-base hits in that bat," Weiss said. "That's what he's always done. He can flat out hit."

Weiss said Dickerson, who turns 25 in May, is absolutely in the center-field mix and has impressed the club with his defense both this spring and last year.

And now that the Rockies are 13 games into their Cactus League slate, Dickerson said he's not focused on the competition that fueled his offseason.

"All competition is healthy competition. I think it brings the best out of each player," Dickerson said. "We all have tools that can help this team. The competition, they're going to decide who they want, so I try not to think about it."

Dickerson did enough of that during the offseason, and so far it's put him in a good place.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth.

Colorado Rockies, Corey Dickerson