Knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey passed up an opportunity to start in the Braves’ last game of the season, happy to end the season (and possibly his career) on round numbers. “My last outing was my 300th start and my 400th appearance, and so those are two nice round numbers to end on for me.”
Dickey is still undecided about whether he will retire after this season, a possibility we noted last week. But he does seem to be leaning a tad more in that direction than he was at this time last year, when he was also mulling the possibility of retirement.
“Physically I feel great,” he tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien.
My velocities are even better than they were in my Cy Young season, so I felt like I was able to handle any microinjuries that I might have had throughout the season. We had a great group (medical and training staff) in there that helped me stay on the field, which is always the goal is to stay healthy through a full season. You know, I made my 252nd consecutive start the other day, that’s pretty memorable for me. That’s what I always set out to do, to be a trustworthy and dependable piece to a championship team, and I felt like being able to stay healthy and post up every fifth day was a big part of that.
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—21 years of my 42 on earth—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.
Dickey says that if he were to retire now, he “couldn’t think of a better place to end it,” feeling that he has made a real connection with his Braves teammates and made an important contribution to the team.
In another recent piece for the AJC, O’Brien observes that Dickey has done “what the Braves hoped he’d do….”
Dickey covered a lot of innings, gave the Braves a chance to win in most of his starts, and set a great example for younger pitchers while serving as a bridge to the future as highly regarded Braves pitching prospects start to arrive to fill in the rotation….
In his last start Tuesday at Citi Field, against the team he won his Cy Young Award with in 2012, Dickey took a two-hit shutout to the seventh inning before giving up a homer and leaving after 6 2/3 innings. He was charged with five hits, two runs and no walks with four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, and tipped his cap when he received a warm ovation from many in the crowd of 21,938 as he left the field in the seventh inning at Citi Field.
Some read into that and his postgame comments that Dickey had decided to call it a career.
“It’s great coming back here,” he said. “I have a lot of history here. This is a place where I really resurrected my career, so there’s some poetry to throwing well here, especially in one of the last outings of the year. It was nice to get to tip my hat to a bunch of fans who really supported me while I was here and beyond.”