The whirlwind ride that has been R.A. Dickey’s life over the last 12 months put him on a train Friday from New York to Washington, in an attempt to beat the blizzard and catch a flight to join the Toronto Blue Jays in spring training.
Dickey – the noted knuckleballer, mountain climber, author, 20-game winner, Cy Young Award recipient and centerpiece of a seven-player trade – went completely unnoticed on the train. Either the scraggly bearded 38-year-old is as skilled at going incognito as he is with the knuckleball, or others really were focused on their own stuff.
There hardly was a more ubiquitous athlete in New York during the last year than Dickey. From his soul-searching, bestselling autobiography to his otherworldly season on the mound, Dickey and his signature pitch and unique personality captured the hearts of Mets fans and attention of fans of the human condition.
And then he was gone, traded to the newly stacked Blue Jays on Dec. 17 with a three-year, $29 million contract extension in hand.
So there Dickey was Monday morning, reporting to an unfamiliar home locker room at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. The journey has been noteworthy. But it is not complete, even if Dickey expects it to slow down some.
Unless, of course, he pitches like he did last season and leads the Blue Jays to the World Series.
Dickey didn’t waste much time getting started. He put on long blue shorts, high blue socks, a gray T-shirt and a Blue Jays cap and played catch with minor-league pitching instructor Dane Johnson under a brilliant sun.
Johnson, a former major league pitcher, did his best attempting to box Dickey’s knuckleball with a regulation catcher’s mitt. After a while, Dickey started to call out his pitches so Johnson would have a chance. You’ve never seen a man look so relieved when another man yells “fastball” from about 60 feet away.
Dickey then did an interview with the only two Canadian TV reporters on hand – a further reminder he’s not in New York anymore. In New York, a reigning Cy Young winner’s first day with the Yankees or Mets would be a heavily attended, full-on media circus.
Dickey answered the usual questions about his back story, about his finicky pitch, about his status as baseball’s “renaissance” man – an interviewer’s word, not his.
The journey wasn’t what he expected. But Dickey got where he was going just fine. Quietly.
Indians, Bourn agree
Free agent outfielder Michael Bourn has agreed to a four-year, $48 million contract with the Cleveland Indians.
Bourn, an All-Star with Atlanta last season, must pass a physical later this week in Goodyear, Ariz., before the deal can be completed. Bourn batted .274 with nine homers, 57 RBIs and 42 steals last season with Atlanta.
Derek Jeter ran for the first time since breaking his left ankle in October, another step toward being in the Yankees’ lineup on opening day. … Outfielder Dexter Fowler and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a two-year, $11.6 million contract. … Outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and the Reds have agreed on a one-year contract for $7,375,000. … Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra is not going to spring training with the New York Yankees because the eccentric 87-year-old’s travel is limited.