Rays, Mariners open three-game series (Jun 02, 2017)
SEATTLE -- Christian Bergman didn't get a chance to start against his former Colorado teammates during a two-city, four-game interleague series this week.
But the Seattle right-hander will get the opportunity to face another former Rockies teammate Friday night when the Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series at Safeco Field.
Bergman started out alongside the Rays' Corey Dickerson in the Rockies' organization -- first in 2010 in rookie ball in Casper, Wyo., then in Modesto, Calif., and Colorado Springs, Colo. -- before making their major league debuts with the Rockies.
"I came up with Dicky," Bergman said. "I knew he was doing really well this year. He's always had raw power. Some balls I saw him hit in Colorado were pretty impressive. It was just a matter of time before he got the (batting) average side down."
Dickerson, who hit just .245 last season, his first in the American League, now leads the AL with 73 hits and is tied for the league lead with Seattle shortstop Jean Segura with a .341 batting average.
"I'd never had a bad year before," Dickerson, who dropped 25 pounds in the offseason, told The Associated Press. "And to have a bad year, I learned from it. At the beginning of the offseason, it was like, 'What did I learn? What went wrong? When did it go wrong?' And not to let it happen again. That was the biggest thing: Forget about it. Baseball is hard; you're going to struggle sometimes.
"Last year I think I felt like I wasn't a part of the game, like I couldn't help unless I did something good at the plate. And this year I take it as I'm part of the team. And I'm going to give my best every opportunity. I know the guys behind me want me up there."
Dickerson's 12 home runs this season are halfway to his career high, set in 2014 with Colorado and matched last year with the Rays.
"He's having a lot of good at-bats right now," Rays manager Kevin Cash told MLB.com of his leadoff hitter. "He's not missing too many pitches."
That includes those in the dirt.
Dickerson made the highlight reels Tuesday in Texas when he hit a pitch from the Rangers' Nick Martinez that bounced in front of home plate for a double down the third-base line.
Dickerson said it was the second time he'd gotten a hit off a bouncing pitch. Rays bench coach Tom Foley wasn't buying it, so Dickerson cued up the video from a 2013 game when he was a rookie with the Rockies.
"Foley and the coaches didn't believe me," Dickerson told the AP. "I pulled it up and showed it to 'em on the Internet, and they laughed."
As for his most recent attempt at something resembling cricket?
"I was choked up. Two-strike approach," he said. "That's where I maximize my hand-eye coordination. I definitely don't try to swing at those pitches consistently, but it is what it is."
Joked Cash: "Corey can really cover the ball down in the dirt."
Bergman (2-2, 4.67 ERA) also has enjoyed a renaissance this season. After going 5-0 in five starts at Triple-A Tacoma, he was called up with four members of the Mariners' Opening Day rotation on the disabled list.
He has pitched seven or more shutout innings in two of his past three starts.
"He's throwing strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "And he's on the corner and on the edges (of the plate)."
Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.14) is scheduled to oppose Bergman on Friday. While Bergman has never faced the Rays in his short career, Odorizzi is 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA in four career games against the Mariners.