The Pirates' 2013 success was expected to break down the Pittsburgh aversion of players who had a choice. Through the years, numerous free agents courted by the Bucs simply wanted no part of the dark cloud that had come with two decades of losing.
It is difficult to assess the extent to which those expectations have been met, since there is no way of knowing how many free agents have been approached by clandestine general manager Neal Huntington. But at least one player will be in Bradenton, Fla., next month for the start of Spring Training because he was smitten by the team's new culture.
Outfielder Chris Dickerson -- getting a sneak peek at Pirate City during the voluntary workouts -- had some alternatives when he elected free agency after getting sent to Triple-A by the Orioles, for whom he'd had 105 at-bats last season.
He chose the Pirates because of the opportunity in right field, sure, but also because the '13 revival seduced from afar a guy who'd experienced the dour times from the visitors' side. Dickerson had broken into the Majors with the 2008-10 Reds.
"Being for three years in Cincinnati, and the culture was just so sad, knowing this team had such a great heritage and tradition, and Pittsburgh being such a great sports city," Dickerson told PiratesProspects.com before Monday morning's workout. "But to see that all turn around this year, it was almost like we were watching from afar, silently, cheering this team on. Especially for me, because I was looking at the playoff games ... and it's got to be incredible for the city of Pittsburgh and for the Pirates in general."
As for why the Pirates wanted to sign the 31-year-old to a Minor League deal with a Spring Training invitation, their own experiences had a lot to do with it. In his limited big league time, Dickerson's greatest success has come in 16 games against the Bucs -- batting .378, with nearly half of his 17 hits for extra bases.
Dickerson made his Major League debut at PNC Park, going 4-for-9 in a pair of Cincinnati wins in August 2008.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.