Blue Jays tab Dickey as Opening Day starter

Veteran knuckleballer to face rival Rays on March 31 at Tropicana Field

Blue Jays tab Dickey as Opening Day starter

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons announced on Monday afternoon that knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will be his Opening Day starter for the second consecutive year.

The move hardly comes as a surprise, but Gibbons confirmed it during a scrum with reporters. Gibbons declined to reveal the order of his remaining starters, but said that Dickey was the natural choice to start the season opener on March 31 against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Dickey joined the Blue Jays last offseason in a multiplayer deal with the Mets and has since taken over as the club's No. 1 starter.

"It'll be Dickey, opening up in [St. Petersburg], where he has pitched very well," Gibbons said. "He has had some good outings down there, and he's our guy."

The Opening Day nod will mark Dickey's eighth career appearance at Tropicana Field. He's 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA in 42 innings at the Rays' stadium. Dickey made three starts there last season and had one of his best outings with a two-hit shutout June 26.

Though Gibbons was mum on the rest of the rotation, a logical conclusion would see right-hander Brandon Morrow take the ball in Game 2 with veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle going the following day. J.A. Happ also will have a spot on the starting staff, while the final job is up for grabs with a series of candidates in the mix.

The early favorite for that last spot appears to be either Esmil Rogers or Todd Redmond, but the likes of Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, Marcus Stroman and Dustin McGowan also will receive some consideration The specific order is anyone's guess at this point, and the Blue Jays will take a look at matchups before making any kind of announcement.

The home opener is April 4 against the Yankees, which will be Toronto's fifth game of the season.

"We'll look at it, depending on how it all shakes down, who pitches well against certain [teams]," Gibbons said. "Happ has always pitched good against the Yankees. That doesn't mean anything, but you look at things like that."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.