The Mets have made it official and have promoted R.A. Dickey while placing Jon Niese on the DL to make room for him.
Tonight, Mets fans will get there first look at R.A. Dickey. We hope his knuckleball will float like a butterfly and keep the Nationals batters off balance. My expectations are not very high but if his opponent Livan Hernandez can have so much success, why can’t R.A..
Robert Allen Dickey is 35 years old but not a journeyman as many would define it. He was drafted in the first round (18th overall) of the 1996 amateur draft. Before reporting to the Texas Rangers, he pitched for the Bronze medal winning Team USA in the Olympics.
R.A., a right hander, is a totally unique human being. He was initially offered an $810,000 signing bonus but a strange discovery occurred during his physical. It was found that he doesn’t have an ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. This is the elbow ligament that is replaced during Tommy John surgery. A doctor went so far to say that he didn’t understand how Dickey could turn a door knob without pain, let alone pitch. Still, miraculously he was able to throw a baseball 92 MPH. Despite this, his signing bonus was reduced to $75,000.
He was on the Rangers major league roster for parts of four years, still throwing the conventional way. He compiled a 16-18 won-lost record in parts of four major league seasons through 2005. Then he had some arm problems which resulted in decreased velocity. He had always had a knuckleball but now he began working on it full time.
Dickey’s knuckleball is faster than Tim Wakefield’s. He says this about it.
I would say it’s my personality. It took me a long time to buy into that, but it’s one of those things where you have to discover where your personality is with it. I am not Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough or Phil Niekro. I am R.A. Dickey and I’ve got to buy into the fact that I offer different things than those guys had to offer. One of which is that I throw it a little bit harder. I still have enough arm strength to throw a fastball about 86, 87 mph, so I can still use that as a weapon. My knuckleball is anywhere from 68 to 80, 82 mph. A normal knuckleball is about 69 mph as a high.
Success for R.A. Dickey, with the Mets tonight and in the future, would make for an incredibly feel good storyline.