Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dickey makes debut for Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla.—The knuckleball fraternity was in full force for yesterday’s game between the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox.
NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey gave up two runs and four hits in his Toronto spring training debut while fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright pitched two scoreless innings for a Boston split squad in a 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.

“You don’t see that too often,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said of seeing two starters tossing knucklers.
Wright, a minor-leaguer, gave up two hits and struck out three. Former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who is working with Wright, was at the game.
“Just a little nervous because you want to do your best in general, but to have guys with the keen eye for the knuckleball [watching],” Wright noted.
“But once I got out there, I felt pretty good.”
Wright and Dickey have communicated by phone and text in the past. Wright sent a message to Dickey when he arrived for yesterday’s game.
“He texted me right before the game,” Dickey said.
“There just wasn’t time to connect, so I’ll have to connect with him, hopefully, when he pitches in the big leagues for the Red Sox,” he added.
Dickey was planning to text his Boston counterpart post-game.
“I think he pitched really well,” Dickey said.
“I’m pulling for him, of course. I know how hard it is.”
Both pitchers seek advice from Wakefield. Dickey said he faced Wakefield a couple times as a reliever in games the former Red Sox standout started.
“He always has a good insight, so it’s good to get with him when I can, especially to see me pitch live,” Dickey noted.
“He can tell me if he sees something that’s out of whack or not.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell, who moved from Toronto to Boston during the off-season after managing the Blue Jays in 2011 and ’12, was roundly booed by fans when his name was announced during the pre-game starting lineup introductions.
This was the first time Farrell has faced his former team.
“I appreciate that people might have differing opinions,” Farrell said. “All I can do is go about my work day in and day out.
“People are going to form their own impressions. I can’t control that,” he reasoned.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the time there [in Toronto].”
The Red Sox scored twice in the first on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s single and Dickey’s wild pitch.
The right-hander later gave up a second-inning single to Mitch Maier, but also induced an inning-ending double play from Pedro Ciriaco.
Wright retired Jose Bautista on a fly that reached deep centre despite a stiff wind blowing, and then Edwin Encarnacion on a grounder after Melky Cabrera had hit a one-out double in the first.
He struck three and allowed a single during the second.
“That’s the first time I feel like I’ve started against another knuckleballer, and we’re real similar as far as speed,” Dickey said.
“I think he threw some really good ones today,” he added.
“And if he stays on that path, and continues to throw strikes with it, I think he has a bright future with it.”
Blue Jays’ right-hander Josh Johnson followed Dickey and gave up one hit in two shutout innings.
Encarnacion also hit a solo homer.
Boston’s Jackie Bradley Jr. had three hits and an RBI.

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