TORONTO: Knuckleball pitchers are an endangered species, even though R.A. Dickey was good enough to win the National League Cy Young Award last year.
Michael Bourn knows all about Dickey, having faced him when Dickey pitched for the New York Mets. Dickey held the Tribe to five hits in six innings Tuesday night, but he yielded four runs, one of them unearned and two coming on Asdrubal Cabrera’s home run.
“Dickey throws that hard knuckleball about 80 miles an hour,” Bourn said. “It’s really hard to hit. He perfected that pitch. He knows what he’s doing. On any given day, he can just shut you down.”
Dickey throws nothing but knuckleballs, which makes his effectiveness all the more amazing.
“What he’s doing is no secret,” Bourn said. “Everybody knows what’s coming.”
There is a baseball theory that says hitters’ swings are a mess for two or three games after they face a knuckleball pitcher. But manager Terry Francona disagrees.
“I would say that applies more to the bullpen [in the same game],” he said. “Tim Wakefield would be in there throwing 66, then somebody would come out of the bullpen throwing 98. But the next day, I’d say there’s no effect.”
Francona managed Wakefield, also a knuckleball specialist, with the Boston Red Sox.
FILET OF MAPLE — The event didn’t register in Northeast Ohio, but when Jason Kipnis accidentally heaved his bat into the seats Tuesday night, it became a big deal in Toronto.
The man who recovered the bat, Arron Barberian, has owned a popular steakhouse in the city for many years. In jest, he made a menacing gesture to Kipnis then threw the bat back [Kipnis gave him a replacement].
Kipnis is not a perpetual bat thrower.
“No, it doesn’t happen often,” he said. “I thought I’d get it out of the way early. But I’d like to get in touch with that guy, maybe get to his restaurant.”
But not for Kipnis’ birthday. That was Wednesday, when he became 26.
WAIVER CLAIM — The Tribe claimed right-hander Robert Whitenack off the waiver wire from the Chicago Cubs and optioned him to the Double-A Aeros.
Whitenack, 24, was designated for assignment Monday and has a four-year minor-league record of 19-18 with a 4.13 ERA in 69 games (65 starts).
In June of 2012, Whitenack underwent elbow reconstruction surgery but returned in 2012 to make 15 starts for “high” Class A Daytona, where he went 1-6 with a 5.96 ERA.
To make room for Whitenack on the 40-man roster, Frank Herrmann (elbow surgery) was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.
— Sheldon Ocker