SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Team USA manager Joe Torre on Monday named Blue Jays knuckleballer and 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey the starter for Friday’s World Baseball Classic opener.
Torre added that Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia will catch for Dickey against Mexico at Chase Field on Friday night. Team USA’s starting pitchers in the WBC will be limited to 65 pitches in their first outing, Torre said, and 80 and 95 pitches in their next starts.
Dickey, 38, was traded from the Mets to Toronto over the winter after becoming the first knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young last season. He went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA, led the NL with 230 strikeouts and appeared in his first All-Star Game.
Dickey got the nod to start Friday over Rangers left-hander Derek Holland, Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong and Nationals left-hander Ross Detweiler. Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals is also on the U.S. roster but will not be available to pitch until the second round of play, should the U.S. advance.
Torre said Holland will start Team USA’s first exhibition, Tuesday against the White Sox in Glendale, Ariz., and be limited to roughly 50 pitches. While Torre did not name any other starters Monday, he hinted at Holland’s next appearances, suggesting reporters “count the days.” With four days off after Tuesday’s start, Holland would likely take the mound Sunday against Team Canada.
Torre declined to name a starter for Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Rockies but said he expects many relievers will see action.
Team USA held its first workout at Salt River Fields, spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, on Monday afternoon.