R.A. Dickey Talks About His Health

Before R.A. Dickey struck out five Giants over 8.1 innings of scoreless ball in early June, we sat down for a brief second to talk about his health, his knuckler, his new situation, and what he’s learned this year.

Eno Sarris: The last time we talked a while back, you were having a great season that had something to do with your fast knuckleball. You were throwing those more than ever, and hitting top speeds with them. I took a look recently and it looks like you’re throwing them a little slower this year. Does that have something to do with your back?

R.A. Dickey: I would think so. I started the year not healthy and that’s contributed to me not being able to step on the gas a little bit more. Recently, over the last week and a half, I’ve felt better than I have all year.

Sarris: What exactly is wrong?

Dickey: I’ve had an upper back issue, whenever I extend, it would bite me pretty good. I’ve had to back it down.

Sarris: That’s interesting, because you played through a torn plantar…

Dickey: And I had a hernia, and then against the Royals early on this year I did this thing to my back, and the WBC was this year.

Sarris: But this has been worse.

Dickey: This is worse because it affects the way I throw. Mechanically, I’m having to alter things to try to avoid the pain of it and still make my starts.

Sarris: Why don’t you just take 15?

Dickey: Because I can still muster through six or seven innings. Even though I haven’t had my best knuckleball, I still have seven or eight quality starts. So I can still give something. Just a matter of not being as dominant as I was because I’m missing a weapon or two. It’s feeling better, though, this last week.

Sarris: How does this relate to, you called it 75% effort vs when you were a conventional thrower… Did this remind you of your age? The thing about knuckleballers is “oh, they can pitch forever.”

Dickey: I don’t know if it reminds me of my age, as I look to my left and right, I see far younger players on the DL for far lesser things.

Sarris: Touche.

Dickey: So it’s hard or me to equate this with just my age. What’s much more important to me is to take the ball every fifth inning and be counted on for 200 innings. You have to be able to take the ball when you’re not feeling great. The guys that can’t really pitch unless they are 100% that don’t ever get to those milestones. Do I feel old? Not really. Am I old?

Sarris: Sorry about that.

Dickey: No that’s okay, that’s a completely valid question. But the answer is that I don’t think it’s a contributing factor right now.

Sarris: I guess what I meant is, did it make you feel more like a conventional pitcher again?

Dickey: No, because if I was a conventional pitcher, with this injury, I’d be out. There would be no way. I couldn’t pitch. In fact, in Texas I had a similar injury to my rhomboid in 2004 and I was out for more than a month.

Sarris: There you go.

Dickey: Tangible proof.

Sarris: So you’re still adding value.

Dickey: Exactly.

Sarris: Has it made you think about offseason regimens?

Dickey: It makes me think about the WBC a little bit. I was in the World Baseball Classic and having to ramp up everything a little early might have, you know… but as far as my offseason workouts, I felt really good going into spring training and it just got interrupted for about a month for WBC stuff.

Sarris: No matter what, it means your season is a lot longer.

Dickey: Yeah, and another thing too, this is equivalent, for me, to 2011, when we had such a cold start to the season. The weather has been horrible. Real cold, not much humidity. I like humid, warm, and it’s been pretty cold.

Sarris: So what about the dome? We were all trying to figure out what you might do in the dome.

Dickey: I don’t have a big enough sample size. The dome is like… against the White Sox? I gave up two hits in six innings, and struck out seven.

Sarris: What about the idea that you’re sending it out there with a half- or quarter-turn and you’re waiting for the wind, or natural effects, to push it one direction or another? Isn’t there less wind in the dome?

Dickey: There’s still a current moving, it’s not like a vacuum. It’s like in Tampa Bay or Toronto, it’s the same, they still have to pump air conditioner or heat and you’re getting some circulation, and it’s a lot more manageable, because it’s always consistent. You’re not going to get 20mph wind gusts.

Sarris: What about today?

Dickey: Oh it’s alright, I’ve actually pitched well here usually.

Sarris: Nice to talk to you again.

Dickey: Likewise.



Print This Post



Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mister
Guest
Mister
3 years 3 months ago

I love Dickey for being tough and pushing through the pain, but I think his team would be a lot better off if he’d just take 15 days off and get healthy. If skipping 2-3 starts could get him back even close to his 2012 form it would be an enormous improvement.

Benjamin Ebek
Guest
Benjamin Ebek
3 years 3 months ago

Dickey: I don’t know if it reminds me of my age, as I look to my left and right, I see far younger players on the DL for far lesser things.

Brandon Morrow?

ALEastbound
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Morrow, Johnson.

Blastings!
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

He may have to reevaluate whether he’s actually adding value. He’s certainly not giving me any value on the bench of my fantasy team.

NatsLady
Member
NatsLady
3 years 3 months ago

NOCAYFT

Blastings!
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Look at all these Sensitive Sandies. I love RA Dickey. I have an RA Dickey picture on my wall. He needs to go on the DL.

Praise Dickey. RAmen.

NatsLady
Member
NatsLady
3 years 3 months ago

No One Cares About Your Fantasy Team

Blastings!
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Is that the name of your stunning debut novel, in which an honest but hapless single father learns to forgive and live again through the eyes of his plucky daughter?

Shlum
Guest
Shlum
3 years 3 months ago

No One Cares About Your Bad Literary Ideas

Blastings!
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

In the sequel, a trollish little man known only as “Shlum” to those who suffer from his Internet-based vituperation, finds out what’s really important when reuniting with his family after the death of his father. A long-buried secret resurfaces, and in tears “Shlum” recounts to his siblings, who always kind of knew, the long drives home with his Little League coach.

Floomp
Guest
Floomp
3 years 3 months ago

I always instinctively hate it when people ramble or get aggressive about their fantasy teams too (Blastings isn’t doing this, mind)… But thinking about it, I guess roto fans make up the lion share of fangraphs readers, and definitely are the type loyal enough to return every day. So they’re the ones bringing in the dollars for our Fangraphs friends, allowing them to reimburse their excellent staff and enabling top tier access and pieces such as this… So, all in all, ICAYFT. And even if nobody else agrees, that does render the statement NOCAYFT incorrect.

payroll
Guest
payroll
3 years 3 months ago

NOEFCAYFT

Oscar Taveras
Guest
Oscar Taveras
3 years 3 months ago

*Chuckles*

Dillon
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

Anyone saying that Dickey should just go on the DL for 15 days and miss 2 or 3 starts doesn’t really seem up on the pitching situation in Toronto. They’ve had at least 2 other starters on the DL for the entire season. And even though Buehrle was healthy, he pitched horribly for a while. Between Morrow, Johnson and Happ I doubt there would have been a time all season that Dickey could have gone on even the 15 day DL and been the only starter on it.

So sure, Dickey may not have added a ton of value so far, but seeing as how the Jays have already had to get multiple starts out of guys like Ramon Ortiz, Chad Jenkins, Esmil Rogers and the almost unplayably bad Ricky Romero he’s been an improvement over whoever would have been behind those guys on the depth chart. They’ve been OK considering, but you can only expect so much from them.

Basically my point is it’s not like they’d have just been replacing Dickey with their 6th starter (whoever that is at this point), but it would have put them like 8 deep on the depth chart and that’s scary for any team.

Anon
Guest
Anon
3 years 3 months ago

it would have put them like 8 deep on the depth chart and that’s scary for any team.

Almost… The Cardinals would like a word with you.

Steve 1
Guest
Steve 1
3 years 3 months ago

BIRDS CAN TALK!?!?!

Tim A
Guest
Tim A
3 years 3 months ago

Yes they can. Cardinals aren’t able too, but birds can talk!

Shlum
Guest
Shlum
3 years 3 months ago

Either that or the papal conclave is innarested!

piratesbreak500
Guest
piratesbreak500
3 years 3 months ago

Pirates are at number 11(?) on their depth chart compared to the start of the year as far as rotation. But adding value is huge- compared to who would replace him, Dickey being tough has been huge.

Jaker
Guest
Jaker
3 years 3 months ago

I’m sorry but playing through injury — particularly for pitchers — is the number one way to insure a far more serious injury. The second you start altering your throwing mechanics, as Dickey just admitted to, it’s inviting serious injury as different muscles and tendons start to over-compensate.

So no, your point is moot as it’s beyond reckless. He just should take the 15 days. What’s 2-3 starts? Honestly, think about it. He’s not providing value for the most part now anyways. It’ll be a greater loss when he goes down for 30 because of a strained lat or other injury.

He’s a competitor. Good for him. Look at how the Braves handled Freeman. It’s about being PROACTIVE not pushing through pain to prove you’re a man. TAKE THE REST.

Oscar Taveras
Guest
Oscar Taveras
3 years 3 months ago

I’m worried this might turn out like halladay 2012

Bab
Guest
Bab
3 years 3 months ago

Ya know, there should be a way to compute player value by their willingness to take DL time and spare their team from below-replacement production while hurt.

Psychedelic
Member
Psychedelic
3 years 3 months ago

Ya maybe that would be the case for a conventional pitcher, but Dickey is throwing the knuckler obviously so he doesn’t strain his tendons and muscles as much and such.

payroll
Guest
payroll
3 years 3 months ago

Reads like he snapped a bit when Eno brought up age. Which says to me “yes I do acknowledge that I’m getting older and am struggling to accept that fact.”

In which case, the whole playing through the pain, balls to the wall all-in mentality makes a lot more sense.

peter
Guest
peter
3 years 3 months ago

Why doesn’t anyone bring up the fact that he only pitches well against NL teams?

MichaelPat
Guest
MichaelPat
3 years 3 months ago

‘Only’ is a stretch. Four of 11 starts versus AL with a game score of 60 or better. Two of three versus NL. Pretty small sample sizes….

peter
Guest
peter
3 years 3 months ago

Not if you look at his last 3 years. Dominant in NL. Aside from one stellar start against O’s last year, he’s been awful against and in AL. His careers splits are shocking.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
3 years 3 months ago

I could be wrong, but I thought he threw back to back 1-hitters against the O’s and Rays last year?

peter
Guest
peter
3 years 3 months ago

You are correct about that. Two great starts in a row. The Rays do love trying to get no-hit though. Last year, Dickey was 6-4, with a 4.20 ERA against playoff-bound teams and 14-2, with a 1.89 ERA against non-playoff teams. Included in those games against non-playoff teams was 6 games against the mighty Marlins. Not only were the Mets 12-6 vs. the Marlins last year, and 5-1 against them when Dickey pitched (he lost the last start of the year against them 4-3), but Dickey received great run support. In only 5 starts all year did the Mets get 2 runs or less for him. In 13 starts, they scored 3-5 runs. And in 8 starts, they got 6 plus. He also appears somewhat lucky to have faced the Marlins 6 times, compared to 4 games against Nationals, 3 against Phils and Braves. He pitched fair against Nationals and Phils, got beat up by the Braves, and just crushed the Marlins. I get that good pitchers should beat up the bad teams, but the great pitchers are supposed to beat the best teams – and with some realm of consistency. He pitched unreal last year (and years in NL) – but also benefited from playing some very bad teams, fairly often. This year, he’s facing better, balanced lineups and unfortunately for him, the Astros moved to the AL West, not East. Imagine if he had to face his own, solo-homer-happy Blue Jays lineup all year? He has dominated the Giants twice this year, including last week, only to come back against the White Sox and get lit up. Point is, he’s a great story and a solid pitcher, but he’s not a top pitcher by any means.

Psychedelic
Member
Psychedelic
3 years 3 months ago

The Marlins weren’t nearly as bad last year as they are this year so it’s not like he was playing a 30 win team or anything.

Krog
Member
Krog
3 years 3 months ago

Love the interview Eno! Sounds like you were both getting a little feisty. Good job not throwing softballs at him and getting boilerplate athlete answers. It seems like Dickey respects you for it as well.

Dingbat
Guest
Dingbat
3 years 3 months ago

Good that he had been feeling better before his dominant performance in SF, but judging from the way he pitched in Chicago in his next start, I’d guess he’s not feeling better anymore. I really wonder whether he can get back to full strength (or as close to full strength as he needs to be effective) this season.

Blastings!
Guest
3 years 3 months ago

I think the San Francisco outing was a fluke. He didn’t have his fast knuckleball then, either. It seems that it’s that pitch that made him an elite pitcher, and if this injury is depriving him of it by taking away velocity, then will be mediocre until he gets that sorted out.

Shlum
Guest
Shlum
3 years 3 months ago

Brilliant analysis

FeslenR
Guest
FeslenR
3 years 3 months ago

I wonder if just moving to the AL makes a huge difference? The one time he pitched like Dickey of 2012 was against the lousy Giants.

canuckassassin
Member
canuckassassin
3 years 3 months ago

They discussed the article in detail on Baseball Central today. Well done Enus.

Psychedelic
Member
Psychedelic
3 years 3 months ago

Was good stuff, I love Dickey he’s a great guy, hope he can get healthy and start throwing that nasty knuckler again. The knuckle ball itself is a fluctuating pitch start-to-start so some days he will get smoked and some days they won’t be able to hit him. its just the nature of the knuckler

bluejays49
Guest
bluejays49
3 years 3 months ago

They’ve been talking about this article on Toronto radio all day. Great job Eno!

wpDiscuz