Dickey feels strong as Jays look for sweep

TORONTO – R.A. Dickey takes the mound tonight with the Toronto Blue Jays looking to complete a sweep of the Houston Astros, and the knuckleballer is confident the dead-arm period that sullied his opening day outing is now well behind him.

Dickey turned the corner last Saturday against the New York Yankees when his velocity was back up and he finished with 6.2 shutout innings, allowing just five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.

That performance was in stark contrast to his March 31 start at Tampa, when he surrendered six runs on five hits and six walks in five innings. Dickey was at the tail-end of his dead-arm stretch that night.

“You kind of now when you’re in that period,” says Dickey. “For me, I feel like I’m beyond it now, my body feels a whole lot different, my arm in particular feels a whole lot different than it did the past two weeks.

“Every pitcher goes through a little bit of a dead-arm period at some point. Hopefully it happens in spring when you’re getting ready,” adds Dickey. “Unfortunately for me it happened the week of opening day and the week before that when I pitched against the Yankees (in spring training). Your arm has a tough time getting going. I didn’t really look too much into it, other than I knew that I needed to get my velocities up and I’ve been feeling great, so I knew it would come eventually.”

Whether rooted in fatigue or overuse, the dead-arm phenomena often leaves pitchers scratching their heads, looking for answers. Understanding how to cope isn’t easy.

“It’s an enigma, it really is,” says Dickey. “Some guys ice a lot, some guys do contrasts, some guys just pitch through it. For me it’s just pitching through it, and trying to use my other body parts a little more, using my legs a little bit more in delivery helps take some of the stress off my arm. Getting George (Poulis) to stretch me out quite a bit, just being proactive in my conditioning and all that stuff is helpful. It’s inevitable that it happens, you’ve just got to battle through it.”

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