MINNEAPOLIS – When R.A. Dickey takes the mound on Thursday afternoon at Target Field, the forecast temperature of one Celsius will test a man who throws a unique pitch, the knuckleball, which is better suited to climate-controlled, humid conditions.
Dickey insists he'll be ready.
“It would be the same challenge that I would have if I was pitching conventionally and just trying to get my body warm and going,” said Dickey. “As far as the conditions, cold isn't necessarily an enemy to the pitch. If I'm throwing a good one it shouldn't matter.”
The Blue Jays are armed with an eight-man bullpen, which include long options J.A. Happ, Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers. Thanks to an off-day Monday and Wednesday's postponement, it's all hands on deck should Dickey struggle.
“We'll know early on, I can guarantee you that,” said manager John Gibbons of whether Dickey's on his game. “We're fine down in the ‘pen so if we have to yank him, if he's not effective at all, we've got plenty of guys down there.”
Dickey has gone bad start, good start, bad start over his first three outings. He's gotten the decision in each, posting a 1-2 record and a 5.30 ERA in the early going. His walk total, which plummeted in the second half of last season compared to the first, has crept back up to 4.8 per nine innings pitched.
He'll do his best to keep his body warm, specifically his fingertips because they're crucial to the knuckleball's grip, as the game goes on.
“Whatever that's going to be,” said Dickey. “Ride the bike a little bit in-between innings, come in (the clubhouse,) heating pack, whatever. We have plenty of stuff to keep us warm in-between innings. We'll see.”
The Blue Jays need a split of the doubleheader to secure a third-consecutive series victory. They took two of three from the Astros last week and two of three from the Orioles in Baltimore over the weekend.
LIND'S BACK TROUBLE IS BACK
Adam Lind wouldn't, or couldn't, predict whether the lower back stiffness he suffered on Tuesday night will land him on the disabled list.
“We're just going to try to do what we can to get me on the field as soon as we can,” said Lind.
“We can't let it drag on,” said Gibbons. “Hopefully we can get through a couple of days without him. We're playing pretty good right now. We need him. He's been a big contributor but it's day to day.”
Lind's back seized in the fourth inning of Tuesday night's win as he was running to second base following a walk. He stayed in the game, singling and scoring in the sixth, before being lifted for pinch-hitter Josh Thole in the seventh. He was limping in the clubhouse after the game. It was a struggle to put on his shoes.
Since then, Lind has made progress.
“A lot,” he said. “I'm functionable so hopefully have a good day of treatment all day today, just continue to try to get healthy and hopefully by the weekend I'll be ready to play.”
The worst time of day is when Lind wakes up. His back spasms; he begins to move around and it loosens up somewhat.
“That's probably something that's going to linger with him for the rest of his career, I would think,” said Gibbons. “Those backs can be … so there can be times you need to give him a break if he flares up so you can calm it down. Hopefully it doesn't get any worse.”
JANSSEN SUFFERS SETBACK
Casey Janssen won't throw for the next two or three days with his minor league rehabilitation assignment halted as he tries to work his way back from an abdominal strain.
“It's just not right,” said Gibbons. “It's not like it's a lot worse but he doesn't feel quite comfortable enough yet to start cutting it loose.”
Janssen pitched a scoreless inning for Single-A Dunedin on Tuesday night, allowing a hit and striking out a batter.
The Blue Jays recalled Anthony Gose for the second game of the doubleheader, when both clubs are allowed to carry a 26th player on the active roster.
NIGHTCAP PITCHING MATC-HUP
The Blue Jays will send right-hander Dustin McGowan (1-1, 4.00) to the mound tonight against Twins' right-hander Mike Pelfrey (0-2, 7.84).
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 EDT.