NEW YORK -- It's team first in Flushing except for once every fifth day, when the entire roster rallies around R.A. Dickey.
Before Dickey's last start, manager Terry Collins realigned his lineup card to support Dickey with his best possible defensive outfield. Heading into Monday's game, Collins planned to bolster his offense by starting Kelly Shoppach at catcher opposite Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.
But Shoppach, who has never caught a knuckleballer competitively, nixed the idea, saying Dickey might be uncomfortable throwing to an unfamiliar catcher. As a result, Dickey pitched to Mike Nickeas as he continued his quest for 20 wins and the National League Cy Young Award.
"He was more concerned with R.A.," Collins said of Shoppach. "He brought up a good point, so we'll go with Nickeas."
Dickey entered Monday's play with a 2.18 ERA in six games throwing to Nickeas this season, vs. a 2.80 ERA in 24 games paired with regular catcher Josh Thole. Shoppach's only knuckleball experience came in 2005 Spring Training with the Red Sox, when he caught Tim Wakefield.