R.A. Dickey gets call against John Farrell's Red Sox
Jays ace's knuckleball like a 'paper airplane coming at you'
Blue Jay fans will get their first look at opening day starter R.A. Dickey in a Toronto uniform in pre-season action Monday (1:05 p.m. ET).
Those at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium will also have an opportunity to let John Farrell know what they think of his off-season decision to pursue his "dream job" in Boston when the former Jays manager and his Boston Red Sox visit Dunedin.
Last October, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos agreed to send Farrell and pitcher David Carpenter to the Red Sox for utility infielder Mike Aviles, marking the end of Farrell’s two-year run in Toronto.
Aviles was later sent to Cleveland along with catcher/infielder Yan Gomes for pitcher Esmil Rogers, while Anthopoulos hired John Gibbons for a second tenure as manager in late November.
Some Toronto players, at least publicly, don’t have an issue with Farrell, who had a 154-170 record during his Jays days.
"As a person I like him," said right-fielder Jose Bautista. "As a manager I like him. You can’t blame somebody for having a desire to get to a certain place in his career."
Catcher J.P. Arencibia also has only good memories of Farrell, who gave him a chance to be the No. 1 backstop in Toronto.
"He was always great with me, a guy I respected a ton," Arencibia told reporters Sunday. "If I see him [Monday] I’ll definitely say hi. Same with Butter [former Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield]."
Then there’s first baseman/designated hitter Adam Lind, who suggested recently that mixed messages from Farrell and one-time hitting coach Dwayne Murphy contributed to some of his struggles in 2012 when he hit .255 in 93 games with 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in. Farrell preached patience at the plate while Murphy, now the Jays first base coach, preferred a more aggressive approach.
No fan of Farrell
"I won’t seek him out," Lind said of Farrell to the Globe and Mail on Sunday. "I’m sure we’ll all be professional out there … it will be, uh, interesting to see what happens. I don’t think he’ll be looking for us."
Lind shrugged when asked if the page had been turned with Farrell.
"It is for him because he wanted to be in Boston anyway. He has no love lost."
In fairness to Farrell, he could have avoided any potential firestorm in Dunedin and joined most of the Red Sox regulars for Monday’s split-squad game in Port Charlotte, Fla., against Tampa Bay.
"You mean I couldn’t wait to get to Dunedin?" Farrell told Boston reporters. "I’m looking forward to seeing [Steven] Wright and [Allen] Webster. My focus is on our team and players. We still have [roster] decisions to be made."
Farrell, though, remains grateful that Anthopoulos gave him his first managerial job in the major leagues.
Webster and Wright, a 28-year-old knuckleball pitcher, could be important depth pitchers in the 2013 season, according to Farrell. Wright’s knuckler is similar to that of Dickey, the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner whose average speed for the pitch is 76 miles per hour.
Dickey, 37, won 20 games last season for the New York Mets and led the NL in strikeouts with 230 before Anthopoulos acquired him in a mid-December trade along with catchers Josh Thole and Canadian Mike Nickeas in exchange for catchers John Buck and Travis d'Arnaud, minor-league right-hander Noah Syndergaard and minor-league outfielder Wuilmer Beccera.
Dickey impressed his new teammates a week ago when he threw to live batters for the first time in 2013.
"It looks like a paper airplane coming at you," said reserve infielder Mark DeRosa, another of Anthopoulos’s many winter pickups. "It’s going every which way and you really can’t time it up because now he’s able to add and subtract velocity on it."
The Blue Jays won their spring opener on Saturday, 10-3 over Detroit, before splitting the team Sunday against Baltimore (5-4 loss) and the New York Yankees (2-0 win).