R.A. Dickey has been confusing hitters with his knuckleball for quite some time, but there are a few hitters in particular who have – or had – virtually no chance against the former Cy Young winner.
“I’d like to think there’s a few guys that I could confuse,” Dickey said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “There’s one that’s still playing that, for whatever reason – and I don’t want to mention his name because I’ll jinx it. I have to face him one more time and I don’t want him to hit three home runs on me in the same game.”
Dickey did reveal that the mystery hitter plays for the Angels.
“He’s one of their best hitters – and it’s not Mike Trout,” Dickey said. “But I’m not going to say his name. The other guy was Dan Uggla. When Dan Uggla played, I would notice from time to time later in his career that he wouldn’t be in the lineup when I pitched, and I figured out why.”
Dickey’s best year came during his 2012 Cy Young season, when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and an NL-best 230 strikeouts in 233 and 2/3 innings. He said the success of his knuckleball hinges on many factors, including the weather. If it’s dry with a little humidity, that’s good. If it’s cooler with light rain, that’s not good.
Either way, that pitch has given Dickey 14 big-league seasons.
“If it was just about my arm, I could probably throw every day,” he said. “But after I start, if I throw 100 pitches in a game, I’m probably good to go again for another 100 pitches on a single day’s rest. I wouldn’t say every day, but every other day is not a stretch – just because the pitch, if you throw it right, it doesn’t take hardly anything out of your arm.”
Dickey was asked how much longer he intends to play.
“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” he said. “I think at the end of every offseason now it’s going to be a family decision. I’m 41, going to be 42 in October, and I feel great. My body has held up well. But I have four kids and one of them is a teenage daughter, so we’re going to get together as a family and make a decision accordingly. I think I’ll have some opportunities in this offseason. It’s a fairly weak starting pitching market, I think, this year. I should have some opportunities. We’ll see.”
Winning a World Series with the Blue Jays (75-57) could potentially impact that decision.
“Well, there’s one big hole in that career and I’m hoping that’s going to finish this year,” Dickey said. “I’m hoping I’m going to be able to check that off the box this year. We got a really good team. I’m hoping a World Series is in our future, but I’ve been really blessed. I’m the product of a lot of people who have loved on me well as far as baseball is concerned. Learning the knuckleball is no easy feat, and to have guys like Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough really pour into me in a way that was transforming – that whole journey has made it very satisfactory, to be able to look back and see some things that we’ve accomplished.”