Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Corey Dickerson looks forward to Fenway

ST. PETERSBURG — Corey Dickerson spent his first three major-league seasons in the National League with the Rockies, and despite interleague play, he'll get a chance to play in a few new ballparks as an AL newcomer with the Rays this season.

As the Rays open a three-game series at Fenway Park, Dickerson has played there before — just one game, the second of his MLB career as a rookie in June 2013, as a DH. He had a walk and a line-drive double to center in an 11-4 loss to the Red Sox.

"I remember walking in, water dripping from the stadium. I remember the smell of the locker rooms," Dickerson said. "It kind of felt more historical then when I got there. I remember getting my first at-bat, and it felt like I was in a video game."

Dickerson, 26, has never played at Yankee Stadium or at Rogers Centre. He'll get a chance to play in New York on Friday and in Toronto next month. He said Nationals Park — where he got his first career hit, three days before Fenway — will always be special, but he appreciates the history of games at Fenway and Yankee Stadium this week.

"That will be something I can always tell my kids and grandkids," he said.

WELCOME BACK: LHP Drew Smyly, starting today's game at Boston, knows Fenway Park well, going back to three relief appearances as a rookie for Detroit in the 2012 ALCS. Last year, he pitched twice at Fenway, allowing just one earned run in 12 1/3 innings for a 0.73 ERA, with 13 strikeouts.

"It's always an exciting game, always a pretty electric atmosphere," Smyly said. "It's a really cool environment. I look forward to it. I enjoy pitching there."

Smyly gave up three home runs in his first start of the season against the Blue Jays, and though he also lost Wednesday to the Indians, he pitched much better, allowing only three hits in seven innings while striking out 11.

"A bunch of big, veteran hitters," he said of Boston. "It's a pretty complete lineup up and down. It's going to be tough, but if I make my pitches, I've had success against them before, so I have to go out there and compete."

STREAK ENDS: The Rays pitching staff has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in baseball, with 4.71 strikeouts for every walk. Last year, by comparison, the staff ratio was 2.84.

When RH reliever Alex Colome walked a White Sox batter in the ninth inning Sunday, it ended a staff streak of 26 strikeouts between walks. For the three-game series against Chicago, the Rays had 28 strikeouts against two walks.

MINOR MATTERS: Rays RHP Damion Carroll was suspended for 50 games under baseball's minor-league drug program after a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Carroll, 22, a sixth-round pick in 2012, is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in two games this year for advanced Class A Charlotte.

THIS AND THAT: New Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has struck out 14 of the first 28 batters he has faced while walking five. … Keep an eye out for Boston on the basepaths, especially against Rays C Hank Conger. The Red Sox are 9-for-10 on stolen-base attempts, among the best success rates in baseball. … Challenge for Rays pitchers? Boston hasn't been shut out at home in 63 straight games, the longest active streak in the majors.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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