Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Dickerson hoping to get bat going in return to Coors Field

DENVER — Corey Dickerson had good reason Monday to be happy about being back in Coors Field, besides the impressive success he'd had there with the Rockies.

"It's definitely weird, but it was good to see all the guys … the old faces," Dickerson said. "The best part about it is just being able to say 'bye' in the right way."

The January trade to the Rays for Jake McGee (with a minor-leaguer going each way) caught Dickerson a bit off-guard, and he is still trying to adjust.

The Rays asked a lot, as Dickerson, 27, was going to be moving away from hitter-friendly Coors Field, transferring into the more challenging American League East and shifting into primarily a DH role. It has shown in his .223 average and .714 OPS to go with 13 homers and 35 RBIs.

"I'm disappointed in what I've done so far," Dickerson said before Monday's game, which was delayed 32 minutes at the start due to rain. "But also I can build on it. I can make it where I'm proud of where I can go with it and build off it."

The Rays feel he has been getting increasingly better.

"We feel like in the last few weeks we've really seen Corey hit his stride," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "He's starting to do the things we identified in Colorado, like going the other way. The power is still there, but we're seeing him hit for more average."

Dickerson did a lot right during parts of three seasons with the Rockies, posting a .355 average and 1.085 OPS with 22 homers and 78 RBIs in 122 games at Coors Field. He was not in the lineup Monday against lefty Tyler Anderson, though he pinch-hit and struck out in the eighth. He's slated to play tonight.

He is confident he will find his stroke with the Rays.

"There's a bunch of variables (that go) into it, but you just have to get comfortable and also believe in yourself and let all that stuff go and just play the game," Dickerson said. "I just try to have the same process every day and play the game the right way and know my ability will take over."

McGee, similarly, hasn't been at the top of his game, posting a 6.04 ERA while converting 15 of 19 saves. Plus he missed nearly a month with inflammation in his left knee.

"Pitching in a new league … it's been a pretty good adjustment facing a lot of different hitters, learning their strengths and weaknesses," McGee said. "I'm feeling a lot better now. … I had a few rough games, but other than that, I'm doing pretty well."

A long line greeted McGee when he came by the Rays dugout before batting practice, a testament, manager Kevin Cash said, to his role as "a pretty special player" during parts of six seasons in the majors and 12 in the organization.

McGee, who still lives in Tampa and saw some of his ex-mates during the All-Star break, said it was good to see the whole group.

Facing them with a game on the line might be a little different.

"It would be kind of a fun challenge since I know most of the guys and I played with most of them," McGee said. "They know what I'm going to do, and I know what they're going to do, pretty much. So it's going to be kind of flip a coin and see what happens."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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