Knuckleball Veteran R.A. Dickey Is Keeping His Options Open

Knuckleball pitcher R A DickeyWe’ve been wondering what’s going on with R.A. Dickey, having heard little about his future since the end of the 2017 baseball season except that the Atlanta Braves would not be keeping him on in 2018.

Dickey had been hinting at the possibility of retirement in order to spend more time with his family, but also suggesting that he might still pitch in 2018 if he could find an amenable team based near his home in Nashville.

In September of 2017, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the proximity of the Braves was a big reason for joining them.

“There was only one decision for me this past offseason—that was to be an Atlanta Brave, really…. [E]verybody involved was incredibly helpful in letting me be a dad and a husband as well as a baseball player. It’s a real important part, and it’s a part that really gets missed by the public eye. You know, through half of my life…I’ve been a professional baseball player. So I’ve dragged my wife and kids around the country and around the world, really, to play winter ball and all kinds of places…. But the guys made it so convenient for me to race home and get to a birthday party or an eighth-grade graduation. They were really understanding, and I appreciated that.”

In the same interview, he said that if he did pitch for anyone but the Braves after 2017, “It would have to be the perfect spot. There are a few teams that are close to home, like Cincinnati, St. Louis, Atlanta, all three of those. And if the Braves weren’t interested and I still wanted to play, felt physically able to do it and my family was behind me, then I would entertain it. But it would have to be an ideal situation.”

A few weeks later, in October,  he was telling The Tennessean that playing in the MLB was both good and bad, but that he could handle the bad.

“There are parts I really love, and there are parts I authentically hate. But the parts I hate are tolerable. And I love to compete. I was born to do it.”

Dickey, who is married and a father of four, said he has until two weeks after the World Series to let the Atlanta Braves know what he’d like to do.

Whether it was mostly Dickey’s own choice or the team’s, he and the Braves sealed no deal for 2018. Nor has he yet signed elsewhere. So for now—with spring training just around the corner—Dickey is sitting things out. Yet he also still seems ready to jump back into the fray if he finds an appropriate opportunity. A few days ago he told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that he has not “officially retired”:

Atlanta was the seventh major league team for the former Montgomery Bell Academy and University of Tennessee standout, and there has been no rush to find an eighth locale.

“It’s been great being with my family and getting to be a full-time father and full-time husband after 21 years of having to get ready for spring training,” Dickey said. “I probably will not be going to spring training with a ball club, but I have not officially retired. I would be available for a team around the All-Star break, when teams are looking for trades and veteran leadership and guys who can eat innings to protect some younger guys.

“I don’t know if the itch is completely out of me, but I know that God has called me with conviction to step away from it in the early months of spring and summer to be with my family.”

Dickey is optimistic about the prospects of the Atlanta Braves: “I’m not going to sit here and say they’re going to the World Series, but I think Braves fans will be pleasantly surprised with the direction.”

As for the direction of R.A. Dickey, we suppose we’ll find out around the time the knuckleballer does.

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