Dickey, who won 20 games and struck out a career high 230 batters with the Mets last season, hinted that his knuckleball was already in midseason form."I was very encouraged, that's all I'll say," Dickey said before the Blue Jays held a workout Monday afternoon. "I'm not going to make any predictions, but it felt good coming out of my hand and that's a good sign."It left me anticipating a very fun night."
Toronto fans are anticipating a fun season, as the retooled Blue Jays seek to return to the playoffs for the first time since winning back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993."We're excited, we're ready," manager John Gibbons said. "We've got a good team. We'll see what happens." Gibbons, who chose Dickey as his opening day starter back in February, called the 38-year-old veteran "the perfect guy" for the high-profile assignment."He'll be very focused," Gibbons said. "I don't think you can distract him. I look forward to him having a big year for us."
Dickey said last month's World Baseball Classic helped him prepare for opening day. He pitched for the United States against Mexico in front of a hostile crowd at Arizona's Chase Field, then faced the Dominican Republic at Miami's Marlins Park. Both games were held inside domed stadiums."It gave me two real tangible experiences to be able to lean on when I go out there," Dickey said. "It was a nice prelude, if you will."
The WBC also gave Dickey the opportunity to form a game-tested bond with catcher J.P. Arencibia, who'll be behind the plate against the Indians. Arencibia had never caught a knuckleball pitcher before Dickey joined the Jays."If the WBC had not happened, J.P. would not be catching me," Dickey said. "He did very well and I'm very confident in his ability to receive it now."
Besides Dickey, acquired from New York in December, Toronto added shortstop Jose Reyes , right-hander Josh Johnson and left-hander Mark Buehrle in a November deal with the Marlins, and signed outfielder Melky Cabrera and infielder Maicer Izturis as free agents.
Gibbons, who managed the Blue Jays from 2004 to 2008, said it's hard not to notice the increased buzz around baseball in Toronto."I don't want to say it's out of control but everywhere you go it's pretty amazing," Gibbons said. "You can't go anywhere without hearing something about the Blue Jays."
Toronto may be the talk of the AL East, but the Indians also had an active offseason. Cleveland spent $117 million on free agents, a big-ticket spending spree that brought in All-Star outfielder Michael Bourn , first baseman Nick Swisher , right-hander Brett Myers and slugger Mark Reynolds .
So does Swisher, who signed a four-year, $56 million contract - the largest for a free agent in Indians history."We've done a good job," Swisher said. "You've got to tip your hat to the front office for the team they've put together. They've put together an exciting team, a team with a lot of speed."
There's also a new manager in Terry Francona . The former Red Sox skipper is back on the bench after a working as a TV broadcaster last season."I like this group a lot," Francona said. "It's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to this group to see just how good we can get." NOTES: Gibbons said 3B Brett Lawrie , who'll start the season on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left side, was set to resume throwing today in Florida and could return to game action this weekend. Lawrie is eligible to come off the DL on April 6, but Gibbons said he'll likely be out for "a couple of weeks." ... Gibbons said RHP Casey Janssen , who was slowed this spring while he recovered from shoulder surgery last November, is healthy enough to close if needed.
|March 31, 2013||Frank Herrmann||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 25, 2013||Frank Herrmann||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 25, 2013||Jason Giambi||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|March 14, 2013||Frank Herrmann||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 11, 2013||Blake Wood||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 01, 2013||Chris Perez||Day-to-Day||Strained right shoulder|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|March 27, 2013||Dustin McGowan||15-Day DL||Sore right shoulder|
|March 25, 2013||Brett Lawrie||Day-to-Day||Strained rib|
|March 22, 2013||Drew Hutchison||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Michael Schwimer||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|March 22, 2013||Brett Lawrie||15-Day DL||Strained left ribcage|
|February 25, 2013||Kyle Drabek||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
TORONTO (AP) -- A season of high expectations started on a low note for R.A. Dickey and the Toronto Blue Jays.
NL Cy Young winner Dickey and the overhauled Blue Jays struggled in their opener and lost to Asdrubal Cabrera , Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians 4-1 Tuesday night.
"You wish it would have went different, you hope for it to be different," Dickey said. "Opening night, everybody is here, full of energy."
Cabrera hit a two-run homer off Dickey, Masterson pitched six innings and the Indians ended their streak of opening day losses at four.
Cleveland won its opener for the first time since beating the Chicago White Sox in 2008. The Indians had dropped eight of their past 10 openers.
Excited by the winter acquisitions of Dickey, Jose Reyes and other All-Stars, fans in Toronto were eager to see the revamped roster in action. They sellout crowd of 48,857 cheered as Dickey walked out to the bullpen to warm up before the game, and roared even louder during player introductions.
"The welcome that I got from the fans was borderline supernatural," Dickey said. "It was pretty awesome. Deep down, you want so badly to give them a great show and you want to entertain them."
Instead, Masterson and three relievers combine to hold Toronto to just one hit after newcomer Melky Cabrera 's leadoff single in the third, a two-out double in the ninth by catcher J.P. Arencibia. Colby Rasmus followed by striking out to end the game.
"We just couldn't get anything going against their pitching," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Masterson (1-0) allowed one run and three hits in six innings, ending his night by retiring 11 straight batters. The right-hander walked four and struck out five.
"He was probably pitching better when we took him out than he was earlier in the game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I just thought that was enough for a first start."
Joe Smith worked the seventh, Vinnie Pestano pitched the eighth and Chris Perez finished for Cleveland, earning his first save.
On opening day last year, Perez allowed three runs in the ninth against Toronto as the Blue Jays rallied to force extra innings, winning it in the 16th on a three-run homer by Arencibia.
There was no ninth-inning drama this time, but Francona was still worked up in his return to the dugout following a season in the broadcast booth.
"I was so nervous the whole game, it surprised me," Francona said. "I came to realize early in the game how much I care about these guys already that it hit me like a ton of bricks and I was a nervous wreck. I went through three things of tobacco. My tongue is four sizes too big right now."
Dickey (0-1) allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in six innings. The knuckleballer walked four and struck out four.
"That's not an easy guy to face," Francona said. "He's a really good pitcher. We certainly didn't knock him around the ballpark, but we did enough to win."
Dickey's four walks were his most since May 6, 2012, when he walked four against Arizona.
"I think I walked four guys all of spring training so that was an anomaly for me," Dickey said.
In 33 starts last season for the New York Mets , he issued more than three walks just twice - he was traded to Toronto in the offseason.
It was a rough night for Arencibia, who was charged with three passed balls in the first two innings as he struggled with Dickey's knuckleball.
"Early it was dancing a ton," Arencibia said. "It was really darting every way possible. It made it tough."
Arencibia's two passed balls in the second helped Cleveland score the first two runs of the game. Michael Brantley singled and went to second on a passed ball before Mark Reynolds drew a one out walk before a second passed ball put runners at second and third. Lonnie Chisenhall hit an RBI grounder and Drew Stubbs followed with an RBI single.
That prompted Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo, the subject of trade rumors linking him with the Maple Leafs and other teams, to tweet about Arencibia's troubles, saying, "Maybe the Blue Jays need a goalie to catch RA Dickey? Just sayin......."
After the third, backup catcher Henry Blanco suggested Arencibia turn his catching stance to the side, giving him more lateral range. That adjustment, and better command from Dickey, prevented any further passed balls.
Gibbons said he wouldn't hesitate to start Arencibia behind the plate in Dickey's next start.
"I wouldn't see why not," Gibbons said. "Anytime you're catching a knuckleball, I don't care who it is, you're going to miss some balls."
Toronto loaded the bases with none out in the third but could only push across one run, with Melky Cabrera scoring on Adam Lind 's double play grounder, a hot shot that was speared by Asdrubal Cabrera , who flipped to second from a prone position to start the twin killing.
Francona called it "a huge play" and Gibbons said it was "a game changer."
Cleveland added to its lead in the fifth when Michael Bourn led off with a single and Cabrera drilled a high knuckleball into the right field bullpen.
"It's not easy," Cabrera said of facing Dickey. "He's got really good stuff. I'd say I got lucky there."
The Indians put runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but Sergio Santos struck out Reynolds and Chisenhall to end the threat.
NOTES: Cleveland LHP Scott Kazmir has a sore abdominal muscle and might miss his first scheduled start, this Saturday at Tampa Bay. The Indians selected Kazmir for the 25-man roster and optioned left-hander Nick Hagadone to Triple-A Columbus. ... Cleveland also outrighted LHP David Huff to Columbus and had OF Ezequiel Carrera claimed off waivers by Philadelphia. ... Singer Geddy Lee of the rock group Rush threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Rush will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18... Former Blue Jays Joe Carter and Duane Ward attended the game.