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Dickey feels ready to compete in Classic

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- R.A. Dickey feels confident with the way his first couple of outings in Spring Training went and believes he's ready to take the next step at the World Baseball Classic.

Dickey's time in Blue Jays' camp is about to go on hiatus as he's set to join Team USA for the upcoming tournament. He could be away until March 19, but a lot of that will depend on how the United States fares against its competition.

With plenty on the line, the intensity level is about to dramatically increase, but that's just fine for Toronto's No. 1 starter.

"I think for me, because I felt good today, I know I can step on the gas a little bit more and it'll be OK," said Dickey, who allowed three runs in three innings against Philadelphia on Saturday. "It's good timing because I'm going into a very competitive situation.

"Today was a big stepping stone towards that. I went down and threw another inning in the bullpen. I'm going to have nights in Toronto when I give up two or three in the first or second inning and I still have to fight through six or seven innings. It's a good exercise, even mentally for me."

Dickey's outing versus the Phillies got off to a rough start as he surrendered a pair of back-to-back doubles and a two-run shot to Ryan Howard in the first inning.

The three-run frame put Toronto in an early deficit, but he quickly settled down and retired six of the final seven batters he faced. The numbers might appear to be somewhat inconsistent through two starts, but it generally takes Dickey a little while in spring to get a feel for the knuckleball.

The later in camp it gets, the more effective the pitch becomes. He also still has to add approximately three miles per hour to the knuckleball, and that's expected to happen in his first start for Team USA.

Joining Dickey at the Classic will be Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia. United States manager Joe Torre has yet to announce his plans for playing time, but it's expected that the pair will be used together whenever Dickey is on the mound.

"I anticipate him catching me and I'm pretty sure that's what Joe Torre is thinking," Dickey said. "I don't want to speak for him, but he knows we've been working hard together and that first game I'm sure he's going to want me to feel comfortable and throwing [Joe] Mauer or [Jonathan] Lucroy having not had any experience with me doesn't seem like the smartest decision. But that's up to him."

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