RA Dickey explains how Buck Showalter prepared him for Mets breakthrough

On his way to winning the 2012 National League Cy Young Award, RA Dickey had a string of back-to-back starts that rank among any pitcher in Mets history: back-to-back shutouts against the Rays and Orioles in June.

Dickey will be honored at Citi Field on Tuesday before the start of the Subway Series, on the 11th anniversary of the first of those one-hitters.

Post Sports+ caught up with the 48-year-old former knuckleballer this week.

You have kept a relatively low profile since the end of your career. When was the last time you were at Citi Field?

R. A. Dickey: I pitched my last game there, my last appearance in 2017 with the Braves. I wanted it that way, and I didn’t take my turn in Miami the following weekend just because I thought it was kind of poetic to end up at Citi Field. Either way, we were out of the picture and they wanted a young man to start in Miami. I could have taken my turn, but I didn’t. It will be fun to come back and see everyone.

What role did Buck Showalter play in helping you become a knuckleball pitcher?

GDR: I was at a point in my career [with Texas in 2005] in which I fizzled like a conventional pitcher. It takes someone who believes in you and believes you can achieve something. It was his role in my story.

Never having recorded an ERA below 5.00, RA Dickey was encouraged by then Rangers manager Buck Showalter to go down to the minors and develop a knuckleball.
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At the time, I could see the writing on the wall from a conventional perspective that I was out of gas, and he saw something in me that I might not even have seen. in myself. [Texas] gave me… the leeway to get off [to the minors] and learn to do it. Buck was incredibly instrumental in that, and I give him a lot of credit for that.

One of the things I think he’s really good at is finding diamonds in the rough and appraising people, and I’m grateful he saw that in me.

What did you enjoy about playing for Showalter?

GDR: I felt like he was looking deeper than the others for some reason. He could see in people what other evaluators might not be able to see.

I think he was really proud of that – that he could see things that might not be obvious that could make a good player a good player.

He stuck his neck out to me. He does it for a lot of guys who might not otherwise get the chance and they end up getting really good.

I liked that he always defends his players in the media. If he had something to say, he would do it professionally, behind closed doors. But for the media, even when you were ugly, he was really protective of you, and I really appreciated that from him as a human being.

You’ve pitched for six different teams, but is it safe to assume you identify most as a Met?

New York Mets pitcher RA Dickey #43 tips his hat to the crowd after their full game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on June 13, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The Mets will open the Subway Series by celebrating the first of two straight hits Dickey threw in June 2012 en route to the NL Cy Young.
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GDR: I absolutely do. If I got into the hall of fame it would definitely be as the Met because that’s where it all really started for me just the new journey and the success with and the platform to be able to use it and all with the Mets.

I was in Toronto longer — because I was there four years and pitched pretty consistently — but I didn’t get what I did in New York for three years. This is the place for me. I loved my time there and the fans and just had a great relationship with people, and it was really fun.

How much do you miss baseball?

GDR: I walked away from acting because I wanted to be with my kids. It wasn’t because I couldn’t throw anymore.

Just two years ago, a team contacted me during All-Star Break to gauge my interest in pitching again.

Age is just a number to me, especially with knuckleball.

And who knows? When I get my son out of high school – he’s a really good little player here locally [in Nashville], and I coach his team and I like to do that — who knows? I declined a great option [for 2018] to come home because it was time to be a full-time dad for a while.

Want to watch a game? The Mets schedule with links to purchase tickets can be found here.

Detour to Cooperstown

Texas Rangers pitcher Jacob deGrom practices before a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, May 26, 2023, in Baltimore.
Tommy John’s second operation by Jacob deGrom complicates his Hall of Fame bid.

After Jacob deGrom won his second Cy Young with the Mets in 2019, it looked like he was a surefire Hall of Famer.

But after injuries cut his 2021 and 22 seasons in half, deGrom – now with Rangers – is heading for Tommy John surgery which will cost him the rest of this year and probably most, if not all, of the next. .

It’s possible the next time he pitches in a major league game could be like someone approaching his 37th birthday. If he returns as the deGrom of old and dominates for a few seasons afterwards, perhaps the Hall of Fame talk can resume, but the odds now seem tilted against him of reaching Cooperstown.

DeGrom’s torn ulnar collateral ligament only underscores the Mets’ decision to play conservatively, relatively speaking, in their offer to the right-hander after he opted out of his contract last offseason.

As badly as this Mets season is going, it would likely be exponentially worse had the team signed deGrom and Carlos Correa, whose physical issues and underperformance have plagued the Twins.

Asset Management

Kevin Parada of the New York Mets practices batting before a spring training game against the Houston Astros at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Florida.
With the Mets’ catch point seemingly booked, prospect Kevin Parada has become one of the club’s most intriguing trade pieces.
Corey Sipkin for the New York Post

After the promotions of Francisco Alvarez, Brett Baty and Mark Vientos to the major leagues, 21-year-old wide receiver Kevin Parada is considered the Mets’ best prospect still in the minors.

Now the question becomes: Would the Mets consider Parada — who plays for Single-A Brooklyn — a trade capital given that Alvarez is showing early signs that he’s the team’s future at that position?

This is where the Mets need to be careful and at least make sure the returning would be a player with several years of team control remaining.

The mistake made two years ago was to trade Pete Crow-Armstrong to the Cubs and get Javier Baez, who was not re-signed after the season, signed on. Crow-Armstrong, a Double-A outfielder, is considered the Cubs’ top prospect, according to MLB.com.

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