Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey won the National League Cy Young last year at 37 years old. It marked the first time he had ever received even a single Cy Young vote.
But he also had been one of the better pitchers in baseball the two years before that. He had a 2.84 ERA in 27 games, 26 starts, in 2010. He recorded a 3.28 ERA in 33 outings, 32 starts, in 2011.
Last year was extra special, though. He led the NL in innings pitched (233.2), starts (33), complete games (5), shutouts (3) and strikeouts (230). He posted a 20-6 record and 2.73 ERA.
He was traded from the New York Mets to the Toronto Blue Jays this past offseason. After a tough start, he has pitched much better lately, including a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Rays on June 26. He also earned a win in his next time out against the Tigers in which he allowed just two runs in 7.0 innings.
Dickey recently went one-on-one with Eagle-Tribune baseball writer Christopher “Smitty” Smith.
Smitty: What is your favorite thing to do here in Boston?
Dickey: Newbury Street is nice. I usually pass up and down Newbury when I’m here. I like being able to walk to the ballparks when we’re in a city that allows for that. It’s always a nice walk from the hotel (here in Boston).
Smitty: When you’re here, is there a favorite food you enjoy? Maybe New England clam chowder?
Dickey: I do not like clam chowder. But you can’t really miss along Newbury Street. There’s a lot of bistros, cafes, places to eat. I don’t know if I’ve had a bad meal here.
Smitty: What are some other cities you enjoy?
Dickey: Chicago, Pittsburgh. I can usually find something interesting in just about every city. You can walk to the field (in Pittsburgh) and the skyline’s beautiful. The field is beautiful and the (park) amenities, it’s just a good place to play.
Smitty: Does pitching in a dome help a knuckleball pitcher?
Dickey: It depends on the dome. (Twins’ old home, the Metrodome), that’s a good place. But I like Citi Field (New York Mets home). That’s a place where I played for three years and that’s a nice field. Anaheim is nice. Dodger Stadium is nice. You can’t complain about any field really. You’re in the big leagues.
Smitty: What was the first major league game you ever attended?
Dickey: It was an Atlanta Braves game when I was about 15.
Smitty: Was the first time you ever visited Fenway Park as a player?
Dickey: First time in was 2003 with the Texas Rangers. It was special. Just the nostalgia, the pedigree that comes with being here — the people who have come through before. It is certainly not the amenities. It’s much more the baseball aspect.
Smitty: Who is one retired pitcher you’d love to chat pitching with?
Dickey: I got to talk to Greg Maddux in the WBC. That was pretty special. He was the pitching coach for the World Baseball Classic (USA) team this year. We got to visit a little bit. That was pretty neat.
He’s helpful because most of the game is mental and he has a fantastic mental approach to the game.
Smitty: Do you put a lot of emphasis on stats and what stat is most important to you?
Dickey: I’m not a stat guy really. I think quality starts is a good measure for pitchers. How many quality starts you have in a year — that means you’ve kept your team in the game with a chance to win more times than not.
Smitty: Has Tim Wakefield helped you?
Dickey: Tim’s a good resource for me and always has been since 2005 when I started throwing (the knuckler). He’s very selfless in his wisdom. It’s nice to have a guy that you can kind of lean on that has walked a mile in your shoes.
Follow Eagle-Tribune baseball reporter Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyonMLB.