KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was able to stretch out his pitch count to 82 while working five scoreless innings Sunday against the Astros. The plan was to try to get to 85 pitches, so he came close enough.
"Being older, I know what I need to do to prepare, and this is one of the things that helps me feel confident when I take the mound ... knowing that I've gone deep in games in the spring," Dickey said. "That way, when it happens during the season, I'm able to do it right from the get-go and not have to build into it."
Dickey should be pushing 100 pitches his next time out before he begins to dial it down a bit prior to the start of the regular season. Dickey is able to go at a much better pace than he did last year while trying to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.
"It's not even close," Dickey said. "It's like getting to start over and do it the right way. You feel like you're getting a chance to reboot. It makes you somewhat regret not being able to invest the time that was really needed last year.
"You don't know that in the moment, and you're getting to do a really fantastic honor, but having spent a lot of time with my guys on the team and getting to prepare my body, it just feels normal."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.