Dickerson proud about his defensive improvement

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Corey Dickerson came to the Pittsburgh Pirates with the reputation of being a good hitter and poor defender.

The starting designated hitter for the AL in the 2017 All-Star Game while with Tampa Bay, Dickerson was used in the outfield in only 93 games last year.

Traded to the Pirates, he committed one error in 266 total chances last year and won a Gold Glove award for his play in left field.

“People don’t know the hundreds of hours I put in during the offseason, working on my defense,” Dickerson said at Pirates’ training camp. “I work on weaknesses and my strengths. It’s important mentally to know I can go out there and perform. I knew I could do it and take it to the next level. As the year went on, my confidence just grew and grew. It’s about growing and continuing to get better. If you’re not, you may as well hang them up. I’m always trying to get better.”

Dickerson made a great first impression in Pittsburgh last season.

“He showed us he’s a motivated man,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Dickerson not only wanted to play better defense but also improve his batting average. He hit a career-best .300 though his home runs dropped to 13 from a career-high 27 in 2017.

He started spring training 7 for 11 (.636) with a double and a triple.

“I pride myself on taking care of business and playing the game the right way,” Dickerson said. “No matter what happens or who you play for, the performance just kind of takes care of itself. I just concern myself with my work ethic and my camaraderie with my teammates. It’s important to get along with those guys. As far as success, I never really worry about it. Results take care of itself.”

Dickerson turns 30 in May and is eligible for free agency after the season. He has an $8.5 million salary this year and could be too pricey for the Pirates to retain.

“It’s great to be part of this family,” Dickerson said. “It’s a great environment. I love it here. I’d like to stay.”

NOTES: RHPs Jesus Liranzo and Aaron Slegers were optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis along with SS Cole Tucker and OF Jason Martin while RHP Alex McRae was reassigned to minor league camp. … RHP Jameson Taillon made his first start of the exhibition season Tuesday after pitching in simulated games so far this spring. He gave up three runs in four innings to the Minnesota Twins. Taillon is scheduled to start the opener March 28 at Cincinnati.

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