Pirates add outfielder Dickerson to spring training mix
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, 9:36 a.m.
BRADENTON, Fla. — With a crowded field of candidates to be the everyday right fielder, the Pirates want someone to grab hold of the job by the end of spring training.
“That's why I'm here,” said Chris Dickerson, who on Monday signed a minor league deal that includes a non-roster invitation to spring training. This week, he's among about two dozen players participating in voluntary workouts at Pirate City.
“Every spring training, you have to play your butt off, let them see your natural ability and let the chips fall where they may,” Dickerson said. “There's no sense putting any pressure on myself. I know that if I do things correctly and do what I'm capable of, then there shouldn't be any question.”
Over his first six years in the majors, Dickerson, 31, played for the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. Last season, he batted .238 with four homers, 13 RBI and a .667 on-base plus slugging percentage with the Orioles.
The Yankees and Cleveland Indians also showed interest in signing Dickerson, but the Pirates were the first team to contact him more than a month ago. Dickerson said he was swayed by a phone call from Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
“That was the kicker for me,” Dickerson said. “It was awesome because it was just like back in the day, when you're getting recruited for college and the big thing was to have the head coach call you. Clint seems like a great guy and the culture here is something I really want to be part of.”
Marlon Byrd's departure via free agency this offseason created an opening in right field. Travis Snider, Jose Tabata, Jaff Decker and Andrew Lambo already are in the mix. Gregory Polanco, the Pirates' top prospect, is expected to make his big league debut at some point this season.
Decker, Lambo and Polanco also are attending the voluntary workouts, which run through Thursday.
McCutchen keeps working
Most of the veteran position players skipped the voluntary workouts. The exceptions were Jordy Mercer, Clint Barmes and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen.
“Even if it's for a day, it's good to show up and show my face,” McCutchen said. “It's good to see everybody, your old teammates and some new faces. I live and hour and a half away, so it's not too bad a trip.”
McCutchen took the field for workouts — some stretching, live batting practice on Field 4 and some work in the cages — wearing his cap with the NL Division Series logo stitched on the side.
“I was a little late, so I just grabbed a hat and threw it on,” McCutchen said. “I like that hat, anyways.”
In 2013, McCutchen followed up his great season on the field with a crazy start to his offseason. He won the MVP award, got engaged to his longtime girlfriend on “The Ellen Show,” played in Shane Victorino's charity golf tournament in Hawaii and was a presenter at the American Music Awards.
“Last year was a whirlwind, but it was a whirlwind of fun,” McCutchen said.
Despite his busy schedule, McCutchen doesn't plan to tweak his training routine leading up to spring training. He'll work out at the IMG Academy in Bradenton before reporting to camp in mid-February.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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