By Mike Harrington
NEWS SPORTS REPORTER
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Defending National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey pitched eight innings for his old team Friday in the Buffalo Bisons’ 6-5 exhibition over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at the Toronto Blue Jays’ minor-league complex.
With J.A. Happ in a fight for Toronto’s fifth spot and throwing six strong frames in the Jays’ 1-0 win over Boston at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dickey got his work in on the minor-league side 3 miles away.
Dickey had a 24-pitch first inning, including a home run to longtime big-leaguer Delmon Young, but then needed just 78 pitches to throw seven more innings. After returning to the big-league clubhouse, he told reporters he could have easily thrown a complete game had it been regular season play.
“It was a great day for me. I felt fantastic,” Dickey said of his first full outing since returning from the World Baseball Classic. “I got better as the game went on.”
Dickey, of course, pitched for the Herd in 2010 prior to becoming a breakout phenomenon with the New York Mets. He was traded to Toronto, the Bisons’ new parent club, over the winter and will start Opening Day for the Blue Jays on April 2 against Cleveland in Rogers Centre. The Bisons will be giving away a Dickey bobblehead to fans prior to their July 24 game against Columbus.
“I struggled early with the feel of my knuckleball but I was able to kind of get through that, capture a good one over the next six innings,” Dickey said. “And I like from the mental side of it getting up seven or eight times at least once before the season breaks.”
Using mostly Double-A players until Friday, the Bisons are 2-6-1 in their spring schedule with seven games to play. The Herd won the game on Jack Murphy’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth. Moises Sierra and Andy LaRoche had two hits apiece.
The Blue Jays sent seven more players to minor-league camp Friday morning. The most prominent names on the list are veteran pitcher Ramon Ortiz, who started in the 2002 World Series for the Anaheim Angels, and St. Francis product Jim Negrych.
Negrych was a big surprise in big-league camp as he went 12 for 28, with his .429 average tied for third on the club. In the previous two years in Marlins and Pirates camp, Negrych had only four big-league at-bats in spring training.
“It looked like he had a good idea,” said Jays manager John Gibbons. “You start throwing him in the games and he might have been the MVP of the camp to be honest with you. He opened up a lot of eyes. He’s a gritty type player who can do a lot of things.”
Also sent down by the Jays were infielder/DH Luis Jimenez, one of the stars of the Triple-A Home Run Derby held last July in Coca-Cola Field while representing the Tacoma Rainers; infielders Mike McCoy, Eugenio Velez and Ryan Schmipf; and pitcher Claudio Vargas.
Later Friday, the Jays announced they have claimed veteran International League pitcher Todd Redmond off waivers from Baltimore and optioned the right-hander to Buffalo. He has ranked in the top five in the IL in strikeouts three straight years, posting 142 in both 2010 and 2011 for Gwinnett.