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Blue Jays knuckleballer Dickey getting up to speed

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm •  Published: February 27, 2014

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — R.A. Dickey is getting up to speed this spring.

Dickey made his exhibition debut Thursday, starting for the Toronto Blue Jays and giving up one unearned run in two innings during a 7-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

For the first time out, Dickey said his floater was fine. He walked back-to-back batters in the opening inning, but said there was a reason for that.

"It was moving quite a bit. It was tough to find the zone for a bit because it had such depth late," he said. "It was a good sign all around, really. They only hit pieces of it. The two hits I gave up were little flares."

The 39-year-old Dickey is still hoping to duplicate the success he found in 2012 when he won the NL Cy Young Award with the New York Mets. He went 20-6 for a team that finished 74-88, with a 2.73 ERA.

Dickey led the NL with 230 strikeouts and 233 2-3 innings that season, then was traded to Toronto.

In his first year with the Blue Jays, Dickey went 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA. He also pitched for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic.

"Last year was a challenge," he said.

Dickey got off to a slow start last season, hampered by problems with his back and neck. That prevented him from throwing his knuckler as hard as he wanted.

Unlike many knuckleballers over the years who have tossed the ball to the plate, Dickey has found success by throwing it much faster.

"Ideally, at the end of the spring, I'd like to have my comfortable knuckleball at about 76 or 77 and my low one about 75. So I've probably got to get about 3 mph on each of the high and low," he said.

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