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JP Arencibia has been catching RA Dickey without a cup to build concentration

JP-Arencibia-Blue-JaysToronto Blue Jays catcher JP Arencibia may have a difficult responsibility this season if the team allows him to catch for R.A. Dickey. Knuckleball pitchers like Dickey and Tim Wakefield will oftentimes have their own personal catcher, but Arencibia is hoping to convince the Jays that he is up to the task.

According to ESPN the Magazine’s Chris Jones, Arencibia has been living life on the edge while working with Dickey in spring training. While catching for Dickey during practice and drills, Arencibia has been using only a mask and the oversized catcher’s mitt that that Dickey takes with him wherever he goes. That means no leg guards, no chest protector and no — gulp — athletic supporter.

“I don’t want to miss every fifth game,” Arencibia explained. “It also makes you really, really concentrate.”

Arencibia said he has been bothered by the belief that he is an average defensive catcher, and he is hoping to prove that he is more than that. Opting to not protect his family jewels is certainly a means by which the 27-year-old can sharpen his senses, but I wouldn’t advise doing it during games. You know, with foul tips and all that.

“He does not want to be made out to be a fool,” Dickey said. “He wants to really figure this thing out, and I think he will.”

If he doesn’t, Arencibia may be in for a world of pain and infertility.

H/T Eye on Baseball

R.A. Dickey got a Star Wars onesie for Christmas (Picture)

RA-Dickey-Star-Wars-onesie

R.A. Dickey is the definition of a late bloomer. He made his first All-Star appearance and won his first Cy Young Award last season as a member of the New York Mets at age 37. That is incredibly old for a player to be enjoying his best season as a pro. Is it possible that the right-hander has discovered the Fountain of Youth?

Judging by the Star Wars onesie Dickey apparently got for Christmas, I’d say it’s a possibility. We’ve seen MLB players rock onesies before road trips before and NFL running backs do it as a sign of team unity, but Dickey is a man in his own world with his Star Wars footie pajamas. That’s how Cy Young Award winners roll.

H/T @MLB via The Big Lead

R.A. Dickey writes a heartfelt farewell letter to Mets and their fans

Professional baseball may be nothing more than a business to certain players, coaches and ownership groups, but it seems safe to say it means a bit more to NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer bounced around from team to team during his nine-year MLB career, but the New York Mets were the first one to give him a chance to prove himself as a full-time starter. It’s safe to say Dickey exceeded expectations.

In three seasons with New York, Dickey compiled a 39-28 record and an impressive 2.95 ERA. He struck out 230 hitters last season and made his first All-Star appearance at the age of 37. The Mets traded the right-hander to the Toronto Blue Jays last week, which inspired Dickey to write a heartfelt letter for the NY Daily News thanking his former team and the fans of New York. Here is a sample:

I never expected to be writing a farewell “holiday card” to Mets fans. I never expected to be doing anything but celebrating the joy of the season with my wife and kids and looking toward the spring, and the start of my fourth season with an organization that gave me maybe the greatest gift an athlete can get:

A chance.

A chance for a fresh start. A chance to prove that maybe I could be somebody on a big league mound, an authentic and trustworthy pitcher, not just a retread with a weird name and an even weirder pitch — a man who was so in need of financial stability that he had to get talked out of taking a guaranteed contract to go pitch in Korea.

The entire thing is worth a read, especially for those of you who think professional athletes only care about money. We have seen star players and popular general managers take out full-page ads thanking the fans, but very few put the type of effort into it that Dickey put into his piece. Kudos to the veteran for finding a way to genuinely express his appreciation.

H/T SI Hot Clicks
Photo credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

R.A. Dickey opens up about being sexually abused as a child in new book

Mets knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey has a memoir coming out, and in it he details some of the darkest moments of his life — being sexually abused as a child and later contemplating suicide as an adult after cheating on his wife.

The book, entitled “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball,” is co-written by the New York Daily News’ Wayne Coffey and comes out Thursday. On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated released a few excerpts, including one about a 13-year-old babysitter sexually molesting Dickey when he was 8:

The babysitter chucks the pillows and stuffed animals out of the way. She looks at me and says, Get in the bed.

I am confused and afraid. I am trembling.

The babysitter has her way with me four or five more times that summer, and into the fall, and each time feels more wicked than the time before. Every time that I know I’m going back over there, the sweat starts to come back. I sit in the front seat of the car, next to my mother, anxiety surging. I never tell her why I am so afraid. I never tell anyone until I am 31 years old.

Dickey, 37, also writes about another instance where he was molested by a 17-year-old boy and how in the winter of 2005-2006 he, filled with guilt and grief after cheating on his wife, considered ending his life.

“I betrayed my wife and there are not words that can adequately convey the guilt I felt for hurting the person who has given me so much love, who I share my life with,” Dickey told the Daily News. He says he was able to get over the anguish thanks to counseling and therapy and the forgiveness and unwavering support of his wife and kids.

While the book deals with serious demons he has faced in his childhood in Tennessee and playing career, Dickey actually thinks the overall tone is positive. No matter, he’s not concerned with whatever reaction the public will have.

“I hope that on some level that people will respect my honesty, and I would like to believe they will,” he said.

H/T Eye on Baseball
Photo credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

R.A. Dickey Will Climb Mount Kilimanjaro Despite Mets Advising Against It

R.A. Dickey is aware of the risks involved if he climbs Mount Kilimanjaro, but he plans on doing it anyway.  The 37-year-old Mets pitcher has been planning to make the trek for months, joined by former Twins teammate Kevin Slowey.  Earlier this week, the Mets sent Dickey a letter urging him to not go through with the climb and reminding him that his $4.5 million salary for 2012 would be void if he suffered an injury.  Despite the warning, sources told the NY Daily News he’s proceeding as planned anyway.

“If we thought it was a good idea, we wouldn’t have sent the letter,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “Beyond that, have we tried to dissuade him from going? It seems to me that the letter is enough of an effort to dissuade him, and he intends to go on nonetheless.”

Dickey, Slowey, and Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello plan to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for the Bombay Teen Challenge, a charity that supports victims of sex trafficking in India.

“I’m really excited about the trip,” Dickey said. “Whether it’s negative or positive publicity, it does shine a light on a cause I believe in. I don’t think there’s really any lethal risk to doing it. It’s not like it’s Everest.”

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain on earth at more than 19,000 feet tall, so there is obviously some risk involved with tackling it.  That being said, as long as Dickey knows the risks he’s taking with regard to his Mets contract I see no issue with it.  He’s committed to raising awareness for a cause.  There are a lot worse things baseball players could be doing with their free time.