Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dickey's Success with the Knuckleball Gives Wright Renewed Confidence

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Dickey's Success with the Knuckleball Gives Wright Renewed Confidence

Article excerpt

Dickey success boosts fellow knuckler Wright

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FORT MYERS, Fla. - Boston Red Sox prospect Steven Wright knew he was taking a risk when he converted to a knuckleball pitcher a year and a half ago.

In a league filled with hard-throwing hurlers, mastering a slower, more unpredictable pitch seemed difficult to justify.

But R.A. Dickey's Cy Young-winning season with the 2012 New York Mets has boosted Wright's confidence.

"There was so much uncertainty to it before, but with R.A. doing what he did last year, he solidified the fact that you can be very effective at it, and very consistent with it," Wright said.

The 38-year-old Dickey was 20-6 with New York last year before he was traded in the off-season to the Toronto Blue Jays.

"With the knuckleball you just don't know," Wright said. "It could be great, it could be not great. But last year, R.A. proved that with the knuckleball, he can be just as effective as (Justin) Verlander, (Stephen) Strasburg, and the velocity that comes with those guys."

Tim Wakefield, who spent 17 seasons as a knuckleballer for the Red Sox, agrees that Dickey has been invaluable to the cause.

In Fort Myers for three days helping Wright make "minor adjustments" to his pitch, Wakefield stood on the mound with the 28-year-old during Wednesday's bullpen session, monitoring his delivery and giving pointers between each pitch as Red Sox manager John Farrell watched intently.

As someone who knows first hand the complexities of the knuckleball, Wakefield was delighted to see Dickey's success last year.

"He validated the knuckleball and made it popular," the retired right-hander said. "There were so few of us that actually threw the pitch for a living -- guys like Wilbur Wood, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tom Candiotti, myself and now R.A. -- it's a close-knit fraternity, so I was very proud."

Though the knuckleball brotherhood may be small, Wakefield believes its members have a responsibility to ensure their breed doesn't die out.

By helping Wright this week, Wakefield is doing his part, just as he did for Dickey in 2008 when the then-struggling Seattle Mariner approached him for advice. …

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