PHOENIX – R.A. Dickey’s spring is off to a rough start. The Toronto Blue Jays’ prized off-season acquisition took the mound in the United States’ opening game against Mexico at the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix on Friday.
In front of a boisterous, mostly pro-Mexico, crowd Dickey was knocked around for four runs in four innings and took the loss as Mexico shocked the U.S. with a 5-2 win. Dickey gave up six hits, including a two-run home run to Adrian Gonzalez. Dickey threw 62 pitches (the WBC has a 65-pitch limit in the first round) and struck out two but generally couldn’t get in a groove and his knuckleball eluded him.
"During the course of the season, you're going to have games like this where it's not your A-plus knuckleball," Dickey said. "I left a couple up and they didn’t have the finish they normally have. That’s the way the ball was reacting. I know that finish will probably be there in a couple more weeks and I hate this.
"You can't make excuses, I just didn't execute."
His U.S. battery mat, fellow Blue Jay J.P. Arencibia, didn’t fare much better, going 0-2 with two strikeouts, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.
Should Blue Jays fans start to worry about Dickey? Probably not, it’s much too early, but his performance this spring has not been impressive. And this was a game that was supposed to “matter” unlike most spring games.
In addition to his poor outing for the U.S., Dickey hasn’t look like the reigning NL Cy Young winner in his two Grapefruit League starts either.
Dickey has pitched only five innings of spring-league ball, but is 0-1 and has surrendered five earned runs and struck out only one. For what it’s worth, in 2012 spring training while with the New York Mets, Dickey gave up seven earned runs in 17.1 innings and struck out 12.
Dickey, 38, was traded to the Blue Jays this winter in a blockbuster deal that sent, among others, prized catching prospect Travis D’Arnaud to the Mets.
Again, it’s too early for Blue Jays fans to get too worked up. But surely it would be reassuring to see Dickey put together a few impressive innings (like Josh Johnson did on Friday) this spring before the Blue Jays head north for the regular season. Dickey is expected to be the Opening Night starter when the Blue Jays open the season on April 2 against the Cleveland Indians.