Dickerson learning to use down time as DH

Acquired in offseason from Rockies, left-handed hitter adjusting in new role

Dickerson learning to use down time as DH

ST. PETERSBURG -- Corey Dickerson is trying to find comfort in his new role as the Rays' designated hitter, instead of being an everyday outfielder.

"It's a point that we've talked about," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "It is something new. I think if you talk to guys who have DH'd for a long time, there is a different mentality. And I'm sure Corey's doing everything he can to learn that as he goes along now."

Dickerson allowed that being the DH is tougher mentally than he anticipated.

"Because you're basically pinch-hitting four times," Dickerson said. "You've got more time on your hands. Definitely a little harder mentally than I thought, but it's something I think I can do. I've hit all my life. It's going to come."

Down time has been the most difficult facet of being the DH for Dickerson.

"When you make an out, you want to critique yourself for 30 minutes," Dickerson said. "When you're playing the field, you're able to get your mind off it because you're playing defense. So I'm trying to not critique myself, because I know what I've been doing the past couple of years works. So just keep doing what I've been doing. Sticking to a routine every day and believing in it."

Dickerson has gone so far as to pick the brains of opposing DH's to find what has worked for them.

"I talked to [Toronto's Edwin] Encarnacion. He said he was awful at it at first," Dickerson said. "But he got to where he could let every at-bat go. Same with Papi [Boston's David Ortiz]. He wasn't too good at first. He said the big thing was to let go at-bats. When you're out, you're out. Just go up there thinking about hitting the ball hard. If you hit the ball hard, you did your job."

Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton believes Dickerson's search will bring a routine that works for him.

"Every guy's different," Shelton said. "Some guys hit a lot, some guys don't. Some guys sit in the clubhouse. Some guys sit in the dugout. It's one of those things where he's going to find his niche. It's a little more difficult for a young player who has been playing in the field to get to the point where they're comfortable doing it. So I just think it's going to be an adjustment for us and for him what works best for him."

Dickerson does have an idea about what will work best for him.

"I think it's going to change depending on how you feel," Dickerson said. "One at-bat you might feel like you need to get some extra swings to stay loose. Other times, you might want to just watch the game. I think it will change a little bit -- maybe have a Plan A and a Plan B depending on how I feel."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.