Oct. 11 R.A. Dickey pregame interview

Oct. 11 R.A. Dickey pregame interview

MODERATOR: R.A., how kind of weird is it to talk about a start that might not even happen? I guess you obviously would go to your regular routine in terms of physically getting ready and mental live.

R.A. DICKEY: Why wouldn't it happen?

Q. What's that?

R.A. DICKEY: Why wouldn't it happen? I'm just pulling your leg. You know, I really don't consider that option. I mean, I don't think anybody in there does, you know. Like in my mind it's a certainty. That's how I have to behave for the sake of being fully prepared, so I don't really consider the alternative.

Q. R.A., what is it like for you, I remember 2003, you got your first win here. I still remember that day and what it was like. To finally be at this point where you're in the postseason and having this opportunity?

R.A. DICKEY: You know, it's special for sure, and that seems like such a cliche word but it's funny how it's come full circle for me personally, having learned the knuckleball here in 2005, and now potentially with a chance to take the series back to Toronto with a Game 4 start. It's poetic, is what it is for me. It's a neat narrative.

Q. You've been in this game quite a long time. Are these the types of situations that you really enjoy to be a part of, knowing that, you know, it's a one-game, we want to go home and play again and I've got to give it my best start type of thing?

R.A. DICKEY: Yes. You know, it's fun. It's not fun being down two games, but look, you had to win three games anyway, right? The order in which you've won those games is insignificant to winning them. So if you won the first one, lost the next two and won the next two, it doesn't matter, if you won three in a row, it doesn't matter. You've got to win three. Here we are having to win three. We've had an 11-game win streak this year. Nobody in there is thinking that we have some kind of insurmountable mountain that we can't climb. That's kind of been our MO this year, nobody's really panicked. We're going to play a hard ballgame. We played a hard ballgame last game, we happened to come out on the short end of a really good baseball game. So expect us to play hard and leave it all out there and whatever happens, happens, but we're not going to be tight.

Q. Is it fair to say that when you signed the extension to allow the trade to happen in Toronto, tomorrow's the game that you were thinking of or hoping for?

R.A. DICKEY: Sure, sure, yeah, and maybe a little bit -- it's what I had envisioned happening every year that I hoped I was going to be a Blue Jay, but baseball's funny that way, right? It doesn't always work out the way you hope, but here we are, and we have an opportunity to do something really neat. But yes, yes, and if I'm back, I will have the same expectation. And every year that I've been here at the beginning of the season I've had that expectation.

Q. Just a quick follow-up, given how long you've waited for this first Postseason start, how do you feel the day before?

R.A. DICKEY: I feel great, I really do. My body's held up very well. I've actually, you know, it's been a long layoff since that five-inning outing in Baltimore but I've tried to stay sharp with sim games and bullpens, and whatnot, but my body feels ready good for this time in the season. We're at Game 165 now. A lot of bodies in there are saying, wait a second, we're not used to playing right now. But I feel really good which is good because tomorrow, you know, I'm going to need to lean on everything that I've got, right? So I feel good, I'm thankful that I do.

Q. You've been getting better results lately in your entire time with the Blue Jays. Is there anything in particular you can point to as having changed to improve that?

R.A. DICKEY: I think the velocity of the knuckleball has a lot to do with that. I think I've had stretches over the last three years where I have been pretty good as a Blue Jay, and I've had stretches where I haven't been so good. And I think the one thing on paper statistically that you can point to is just that consistent velocity. When I want to throw a knuckleball in the 78 to 81-mile an hour range, I can do that. And a lot of that has to do with the way your body feels and where you are in that moment with your -- the way you feel physically. But I've been feeling really good. And there have been times the last two years where I felt really good and this second half of the season was better than my second half of my Cy Young year, so I've been pitching well and I don't see any reason why that would stop.

Q. In your experience how have you found that your knuckleball reacts in this ballpark just in terms of the way the air is here, and the heat, all that?

R.A. DICKEY: Favorably. That's a good question. A lot of people are curious about how the climate impacts the pitch, right, and a lot has been made of that in Toronto as well with the dome and do you open it, do you close it. And you can't win ball games in the big leagues and only be able to pitch well when you pitch inside a dome. There's only two domes left so that would be bad for me. Here it's good because the humidity is usually nice and it's usually warmer, and those are two things that contribute to a moving knuckleball, one that reacts favorably as far as movement's concerned. That's what I rely on. I rely on late movement and this place has traditionally been a pretty good place for that.

Q. John Gibbons was asked about the playoff experience and he said it was definitely more intense but he's loved every minute of it. I wonder, results aside, how you've viewed the playoff experience so far?

R.A. DICKEY: I would agree with John. You know, I think it has been more intense. We had like 24 sellouts or something right before the playoffs and people were really into the games. The thing that's different is the finality, you know. Before, there wasn't that sense of finality, right, and here we are, it feels like the last two or three games, even from the first game, there's this kind of presence of "the end is near" if you, you know, don't watch it, right. That's what's felt different to me is just kind of that lingering sense of finality. To think that you really potentially only have 17 games left, right? And less if you don't perform well, and maybe less if you perform really well. That's different. But I have enjoyed it. It's been -- I will be very, very disappointed and sad if I don't get a chance to pitch in the Postseason, it will really be sad for me but I've enjoyed every minute up until this moment.

Q. R.A., this is similar to the point you just made, but baseball is a game where there's always a tomorrow and today, tomorrow, the day after, there's the potential for no tomorrow. Can that have an impact on players going into a game like that?

R.A. DICKEY: I think certain players, yeah, sure. I'm not going to speculate while we defensively weren't our best the first two games, but there are times when the pressure of that can make a difference from time to time to guys, and that's because we're human beings and we don't want to let anybody else down. I think that's what so neat about the playoffs is you really, you know, when you don't perform as well as you would like, you feel badly for the other guys. I think that's something that's very special, at least in our clubhouse, that's how it has been. And so you carry that weight. Sometimes it can feel heavy. But then again, you've just kind of got to breathe through it and know that we're a family and it's okay.

Q. R.A., when it comes to mountains to overcome, how would you compare an 0-2 deficit to Mount Kilimanjaro?

R.A. DICKEY: Well, I don't feel as nauseous as I did when I was halfway up the mountain, that's for sure. You know, like I said before, this is not an insurmountable peak. It is one that we can get to and we have gotten to it, and at times during the season when we've needed to win games or we've needed to make a move, to put ourself in position for Postseason games. Like we've played pretty much the whole month and a half under the yoke of having to win and here we are again having to win. So personally, I think that we're feeling good in there, everybody's loose, you don't see any differences in behavior, people aren't meditating in the corners or doing what you might think that they would be doing when the game is on the line. Guys are having fun and we're enjoying being around each other. I think Kawasaki might help with that a little bit, but it's a neat experience but there is a finality to it and we're all aware of that.

Q. Talking about the finality, with you needing a win to move on today. Is there anything -- we talk about baseball as how anything can happen in one game, it doesn't necessarily matter who's better but is there anything that can be done at all to maximize your advantages to ensure that you give yourselves the best chance possible of winning that one game?

R.A. DICKEY: By that one game you mean tonight's game?

Q. Yeah, and then tomorrow?

R.A. DICKEY: Yeah. I think what we are doing -- I think we're doing what you're asking. I think we're giving it like, you know, Navarro's catching Estrada and Estrada's done beautifully with Navarro, for example, all year. I think we're doing the things that we need to do to put ourself in position personnel-wise. I think the only thing that we need to tighten up that we haven't been ourselves at is our defense. The last two games our defense has been the difference in the games, I feel like. If we tighten that up, I think we'll be where we want to be, and I think those were anomalies compared to the way that we've been playing. As far as putting ourself in the right position, it's a matter of just being consistent with -- you heard that adage, you've got to dance with the girl that you brought, right? So that's what we need to do. We need to pitch well, play good defense and get timely hits. That's what we've done all year, and if we do that today I feel like we're going to be victorious the next two days.

Q. Given the nature of the knuckleball and sometimes maybe needing a little bit of time and repetition to see if you have it against the urgency of a potential elimination game, is there any different feel to try to get a feel for it early? Is there any more urgency?

R.A. DICKEY: I might spend a little bit extra -- I might change my routine a little bit by going to the bullpen a little bit early just to make sure that I have a pretty good feel of it here. But we're going to have all hands on deck tomorrow. I'm sure David will be available in the bullpen if needed. It's going to be, you know, because you lose, you go home. So my hope is that I'm able to do what I've been doing routinely the last four months and that's give us seven strong innings and turn it over to whoever's next, but I don't anticipate the climate or the way that it feels in my hand to be any different than it's been. I threw a bullpen here. I purposely waited until I got here to throw my bullpen just so I would know how it felt in my hand and the humidity again and it was fine.

Q. You competed against Chase Utley for a number of years when you were with the Mets. What was your reaction to that play last night that involved Tejada?

R.A. DICKEY: Well, I feel like the diplomatic answer is I can see both sides. You know, I played against Chase for a while with the Mets and I've seen him do similar things, and every time you think to yourself, you know, he always has -- he has a knack for walking that razor's edge, right, on what seems appropriate and what may be a little bit over the line. But in the heat of the moment, I read his comments and they seem believable, and I know he has the reputation of a guy who goes in hard. Ruben knows that. I remember playing with Ruben a few years ago and he took him out in Philly, and it was a similar play. It doesn't break his leg, of course, but it took him out of the game. He knows that when Chase is on first, he had better watch out. As Chase's teammate, I would want to know that my guy's going in there to try to break it up in a playoff game as long as, you know, it wasn't cleat to the waist, right, and that he could touch the bag. But I don't really have a definitive answer for you as far as what my opinion is other than I can see it from both sides. I would be upset, right, if Ryan Goins' leg was broken. Even if it was a perfectly clean slide, I would probably take issue with it. So I can understand both sides.

Q. R.A., you speak in Spring Training how some guys may be under the radar at that point, end up stepping up and becoming real important parts. When you consider that Marco Estrada began the year in the bullpen and we weren't really sure what the team was going to put up for them. You see the numbers that he put up this year. Is he one of the guys who really went above and beyond?

R.A. DICKEY: In my mind he is the epitome of that comment I made. He exemplifies that perfectly. And I said in Spring Training, in order for us to win a championship, any championship, a division championship, an AL Championship, a World Championship, you're going to have to have guys step up that you weren't necessarily starting on. I mean he was close to a cut in Spring Training and here he is probably one of our top two starters. Then there's others, though, you've got Ryan -- the list is pretty long on our team which is why I feel like we've had so much success. But yes, in answer to your question directly, I think Marco has proven to be an incredible asset for us in more ways than just pitching. He's been so consistent in the clubhouse, you can count on him all the time, he works his tail off, it rubs off on the younger guys, he's the total package, that's been fun to be a teammate of his and to get to know him. But yes, he is one of those guys I would say.