Arencibia knows Dickey and his knuckler

When Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia crouches behind the plate for

right-hander R.A. Dickey’s first spring training pitch, the

knuckleball won’t be strange to him.

Arencibia has never caught one in a game, but he’s quite

familiar with Dickey.

”Me and R.A. both live in Nashville in the offseason, so me and

him have been working the whole time since they signed him,” the

catcher said Tuesday.

After Dickey went 20-6 last year for the Mets, he became the

first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award and then was traded in

December when New York couldn’t sign him to a new contract for

beyond 2013 at a price the team liked. As part of the trade,

Toronto signed the 38-year-old to a $30 million, three-year

deal.

Arencibia’s only other knuckleball experience was facing

Boston’s Tim Wakefield in 2011. Arencibia struck out three times

but his two hits in nine at-bats were home runs, and he had five

RBIs.

Already announced as Toronto’s opening-day starter, Dickey was

41-50 over nine major league seasons entering 2013.

Arencibia described his first time catching Dickey in Nashville

as ”um, pretty interesting.”

”Tough pitch. The biggest thing is learning to put your pride

aside,” Arencibia said. ”The problem going in is that you know

you’re not going to catch every ball. Even the best catchers are

going to struggle every once in a while. As I’ve had more and more

reps, I’ve become more familiar with how he’s going to throw. I

could sense which way the ball was going to go. But that pitch is

really humbling. Each time you think you’re figured it out, that’s

when it hits you right in the chest.”