New attitude helping Dickerson's game

New attitude helping Dickerson's game

ST. LOUIS -- Reds outfielder Chris Dickerson got his mind right again, and his bat seems to be following.

With his average down to .197 as recently as May 11, Dickerson had struggled his way out of regular playing time as the left-handed portion of a platoon in left field. His slide happened just as Laynce Nix was getting hot and it was Nix who claimed his spot.

In 16 games since then, including seven starts, Dickerson has gone 10-for-30 (.300) and raised his overall average to .240. He's spent the last three games filling in for leadoff hitter and center fielder Willy Taveras, who has been bothered by a sore hamstring.

"It wasn't so much a mechanical thing with my swing, which was part of it, as it was mental," Dickerson said. "I think when I came in, all the pressure I successfully alleviated from being that guy in Spring Training, I really felt the pressure once the season started. Especially at home, I was in such a negative train of thought every day, I tried to be perfect, tried to be the crowd pleaser and force myself to prove I belong as an everyday person -- more so when I wasn't playing every day."

On Monday vs. the Cardinals, Dickerson was 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the Reds' 5-3 win.

Dickerson, 27, saw one of the club's sports psychologists to help improve his mindset and stop pressing at the plate.

"I was mentally paralyzing myself with negativity," Dickerson said. "That was no way to play. I wasn't having any fun and was putting too much pressure on myself to do well. As long as I go out there and be myself and let things naturally take over, I will have success."

Dickerson still has some improvements to make defensively in left field, where he's committed three errors and has had difficulty with his routes and tracking fly balls.

Being in center field lately has highlighted the difference in positions. On Saturday, Dickerson made a spectacular diving catch at the warning track and saved a run.

"When I've been playing center field, a lot of the mental strain seems to dissipate," Dickerson said. "In left field, I'm still unfamiliar especially at the big league level and adjusting to new stadiums. I'm adjusting as I play. I tend to overanalyze things. When you're struggling, I put more pressure on myself to do well on defense. I didn't feel comfortable doing that in left field. I still have a long way to go to become a good left fielder. In center field, nothing is calculated. Everything is instinct."

Pitching matchup
CIN: RHP Bronson Arroyo (7-3, 5.12 ERA)
In his first complete game of the season and seventh of his career, Arroyo gave up five hits -- four singles and a double -- with one walk and three strikeouts for an easy 6-1 win over the Astros on Wednesday. He had only 79 pitches through eight innings and finished with 92 pitches. In the start before that vs. Cleveland, he gave up one earned run over eight innings. Arroyo has yet to get a no-decision. He's figured in the outcome of all 10 of his starts. After the bullpen worked eight innings on Monday, the Reds will need another deep start from Arroyo.

STL: RHP Brad Thompson (0-1, 4.30 ERA)
With Kyle Lohse still on the shelf with soreness in his right forearm, the Cardinals will turn to Thompson to make his first start of the season. The Dixie State product won two of his final three starts last year despite an irregular schedule. He's unbeaten in 19 appearances -- four starts -- against the Reds with an ERA of 3.70. Thompson hasn't pitched in a game in two weeks.

Reds notes
Manager Dusty Baker expected Taveras to be back in the lineup again on Tuesday. ... Infielder/outfielder Jerry Hairston was out of Monday's lineup because of flu-like symptoms. ... Reds opponents have scored in the first inning of the last five games. ... Laynce Nix has the team lead with 11 doubles. Nix hit a two-run double in Monday's win.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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On radio
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Up next
• Wednesday: Reds (Johnny Cueto, 4-3, 2.53) at Cardinals (Kyle Lohse, 4-3, 3.98), 8:15 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Reds (Aaron Harang, 5-5, 4.19) at Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 3-0, 0.62), 8:15 p.m. ET
• Friday: Reds (Micah Owings, 3-6, 5.10) vs. Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 4-3, 4.48), 7:10 p.m. ET

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.