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Kevin Gorman: Corey Dickerson brings new perspective to Pirates

March 18, 2018 GMT

BRADENTON, Fla.

Corey Dickerson was at the hospital Thursday, awaiting the arrival of his second child, when he got a special delivery: a phone call informing the outfielder he had been traded.

The Tampa Bay Rays turned Dickerson’s world upside down five days earlier by designating him for assignment.

That was embarrassing to the 2017 All-Star starter, who had to explain to family members that the move was meant to accelerate trade talks after the Rays went with cheaper option C.J. Cron.

Tampa Bay trading for Cron was cause for confusion, as Dickerson first thought he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels. He wondered where he would fit into an outfield featuring All-Stars Mike Trout and Justin Upton and Gold Glove-winner Kole Calhoun.

So imagine Dickerson’s surprise when he learned he was shipped from the penny-pinching Rays to the free-spending Pirates.

By Dickerson’s reaction, it was clear the last place he expected to end up was in Pittsburgh.

“The whole thing was a surprise,” Dickerson said. “Whenever it finally happened, I was just excited. I’m the kind of person (who asks), ‘What’s next?’ I turn the page really quickly. All I’m worried about is competing. I’m a very competitive person. I always try to turn the page quickly.”

The pages of the book on Dickerson are now loaded with a fresh perspective on what is worth worrying about and what isn’t.

He was so worried about where he would play until his wife, Beth Anne, gave birth to their second son, Miller, at 5:58 p.m., just hours after Dickerson was dealt.

“This game means so much to me and my family,” Dickerson said. “For it to be kind of feel like it was taken away in a sense that you feel like you don’t have a home and then you’re welcoming your second son, it’s kind of hard to concentrate on what’s really important.

“At the end of the day, what really was important was having our second son. He came out healthy. Everything worked out for the best. We’re very lucky and feel blessed for that.”

That fresh perspective should serve Dickerson well with the Pirates, who proclaimed him their starter in left field before he ever put on a black-and-gold uniform Monday.

Dickerson has no shortage of motivation, calling Tampa’s decision to DFA him “disrespectful” and “hard to stomach,” especially after a career-best 27-home run campaign.

“To be done in that way, it hurt,” Dickerson said. “But I’m ready to turn the page. I know what I can do. I’m not going to try to be anybody else. I’m just going to try to play my game and help this organization win.”

That’s good that Dickerson doesn’t want to be anybody else, considering the Pirates sure don’t want him to try to be Andrew McCutchen.

They need Dickerson to post similar statistics, taking advantage of the short, right-field fence at PNC Park with his big, left-handed bat.

It’s no accident the Pirates placed his locker next to third baseman Colin Moran, another starter acquired via trade who stretched with Dickerson.

“He’s got a much longer resume than I do,” Moran said. “He’s obviously a hell of a player, so I’m excited to have him on the team. I’m really excited to pick his brain. He was an All-Star last year and a very accomplished player, so I’m looking forward to seeing how he works and picking up a few things that can help me.”

Despite his soft-spoken demeanor, Dickerson comes across as his confident. He knows the knock on him — with his Mississippi twang, it sounds like he’s saying “knack” — is his defense.

Dickerson intends to prove he can play in PNC Park’s cavernous left field like he did at Coors Field in Colorado and at Tropicana Field in Tampa — even if he was selected to start in the All-Star Game as a designated hitter.

That was a nod to his strong start, as Dickerson batted an AL-best .330 through June 26 on his way to career bests in homers, runs (84), extra-base hits (64), total bases (288) and multi-hit games (51).

Playing in the Midsummer Classic, Dickerson realized a “childhood dream” and proved to himself he belonged with the game’s best players.

“It’s something you never can get taken away from you,” Dickerson said. “You can struggle for years, but you’re an All-Star. That’s beside your name forever. You can tell your kids that.”

Now, Dickerson can tell his kids about that and more, especially the story about the whirlwind week that led to the trade on the day his second son was born, the day Dickerson’s perspective was born anew.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib. .