Indians-Blue Jays Preview
R.A. Dickey couldn’t wait till opening day to make his first
pitches at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. So the Cy Young knuckleballer
spent part of Easter Sunday getting acclimated to his new home
”It was almost like an out-of-body experience,” said Dickey,
who threw to backup catcher Henry Blanco in preparation for
Tuesday’s start against the Cleveland Indians. ”To get to stand on
the mound and kind of get comfortable with my surroundings was a
Dickey, who won 20 games and struck out a career high 230
batters with the Mets last season, hinted that his knuckleball was
already in midseason form.
”I was very encouraged, that’s all I’ll say,” Dickey said
before the Blue Jays held a workout Monday afternoon. ”I’m not
going to make any predictions, but it felt good coming out of my
hand and that’s a good sign.
”It left me anticipating a very fun night.”
Toronto fans are anticipating a fun season, as the retooled Blue
Jays seek to return to the playoffs for the first time since
winning back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
”We’re excited, we’re ready,” manager John Gibbons said.
”We’ve got a good team. We’ll see what happens.”
Gibbons, who chose Dickey as his opening day starter back in
February, called the 38-year-old veteran ”the perfect guy” for
the high-profile assignment.
”He’ll be very focused,” Gibbons said. ”I don’t think you can
distract him. I look forward to him having a big year for us.”
Dickey said last month’s World Baseball Classic helped him
prepare for opening day. He pitched for the United States against
Mexico in front of a hostile crowd at Arizona’s Chase Field, then
faced the Dominican Republic at Miami’s Marlins Park. Both games
were held inside domed stadiums.
”It gave me two real tangible experiences to be able to lean on
when I go out there,” Dickey said. ”It was a nice prelude, if you
The WBC also gave Dickey the opportunity to form a game-tested
bond with catcher J.P. Arencibia, who’ll be behind the plate
against the Indians. Arencibia had never caught a knuckleball
pitcher before Dickey joined the Jays.
”If the WBC had not happened, J.P. would not be catching me,”
Dickey said. ”He did very well and I’m very confident in his
ability to receive it now.”
Besides Dickey, acquired from New York in December, Toronto
added shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hander Josh Johnson and
left-hander Mark Buehrle in a November deal with the Marlins, and
signed outfielder Melky Cabrera and infielder Maicer Izturis as
Gibbons, who managed the Blue Jays from 2004 to 2008, said it’s
hard not to notice the increased buzz around baseball in
”I don’t want to say it’s out of control but everywhere you go
it’s pretty amazing,” Gibbons said. ”You can’t go anywhere
without hearing something about the Blue Jays.”
Toronto may be the talk of the AL East, but the Indians also had
an active offseason. Cleveland spent $117 million on free agents, a
big-ticket spending spree that brought in All-Star outfielder
Michael Bourn, first baseman Nick Swisher, right-hander Brett Myers
and slugger Mark Reynolds.
The Indians also traded for outfielder Drew Stubbs and infielder
Mike Aviles and signed slugger Jason Giambi, infielder Ryan Raburn
and left-hander Scott Kazmir.
”I like what they’ve done,” Gibbons said.
So does Swisher, who signed a four-year, $56 million contract –
the largest for a free agent in Indians history.
”We’ve done a good job,” Swisher said. ”You’ve got to tip
your hat to the front office for the team they’ve put together.
They’ve put together an exciting team, a team with a lot of
There’s also a new manager in Terry Francona. The former Red Sox
skipper is back on the bench after a working as a TV broadcaster
”I like this group a lot,” Francona said. ”It’s going to be
fun. I’m looking forward to this group to see just how good we can
NOTES: Gibbons said 3B Brett Lawrie, who’ll start the season on
the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left side, was set
to resume throwing today in Florida and could return to game action
this weekend. Lawrie is eligible to come off the DL on April 6, but
Gibbons said he’ll likely be out for ”a couple of weeks.” …
Gibbons said RHP Casey Janssen, who was slowed this spring while he
recovered from shoulder surgery last November, is healthy enough to
close if needed.