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Knuckleballer Dickey not worried about string of rough starts

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — R.A. Dickey has thrown a great many knuckleballs and other pitches in too many official games to put much stock in the box scores of spring training games that don’t count. Even if the pitching line next to his name has mostly crooked numbers.

He gave up six hits, six runs and three walks in 5 2/3 innings Monday in a 9-3 loss against the Marlins, Dickey’s third consecutive rough outing out of four Grapefruit League starts. And afterward, he gave no indication whatsoever of being worried. Quite the contrary.

“I showed some slower (knuckleballs) in the first,” Dickey said. “Those last two innings I was throwing a lot of heaters, brought in a curveball that I hadn’t thrown all spring. So I got a lot accomplished today. It was a good day for me. Got to handle the bat a little bit, felt great. I mean, one more (spring start) and I’m going to be ready to rock.”

The 42-year-old former Cy Young Award winner probably couldn’t care less that in his past three starts he has pitched 13 innings and allowed 19 hits, 17 runs (11 earned runs) and seven walks with six strikeouts, pushing his spring ERA to 7.20.

“Spring is so much about trusting the process,” Dickey said. “It’s all process over results. It’s all conditioning, getting your big muscles ready to go, making sure mentally you’re OK with getting up and down (between innings), getting to throw every fifth day and getting to throw bullpens in-between starts, and making sure all those components are there, and you just trust the process of it all.

“And come April 3, if you’ve done your work, you’ll be ready to rock. I feel good. That’s all good.”

A little more from Dickey on spring training goals: “Especially guys that are established, it’s a time to make sure that your body responds well to getting up and down, throwing 90 pitches, getting to run the bases, getting to bunt, getting to hit. That’s what it’s for for me, and just making sure that mentally I can get up five or six times a game with no problem. And it was great today. I felt fantastic.”

Manager Brian Snitker also says he’s not worried about Dickey, just as he’s unconcerned about 43-year-old former Cy winner Bartolo Colon (9.20 ERA).

“Those guys have got hardware,” Snitker said. “I don’t worry about them. They’re healthy, they’re feeling good. They’ve been there and done that, so I do not worry about them.”

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