9/28/2013 1:21 P.M. ET
Dickey takes 2013 campaign as learning experience
By Evan Peaslee / MLB.com
TORONTO -- It may not have been the season he was hoping for, but R.A. Dickey is pleased with his progress over the last couple of months.
Dickey's post-Cy Young Award-winning season started off on shaky ground, with the knuckleballer having an ERA over 5.00 for most of the first half as he struggled with the adjustment to the American League, the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre and a sore neck/back muscle that hindered the velocity and effectiveness of his signature pitch.
Since June 21, Dickey posted a respectable 3.46 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and an 8-5 record. He was 6-2 with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, with 69 strikeouts in 84 innings since July 31.
"I'm certainly glad that I was able to string a good couple of months together. I feel like I gave glimpses of what I can be for this team over that span," Dickey said, who finished the season 14-13. "So there's a lot of good things. We're trying to be honest with ourselves about what we need to do to be better, but we can't just throw it all away. You can't throw the baby out with the bath water. You got to realize what you've done well, too."
It was a season of highs and lows for the 38-year-old, as he allowed five or more earned runs in nine of his 34 starts and had 13 outings in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs.
"It was a year where I felt like I didn't have my best knuckleball at times, but was able to fight through a lot of that and survive. I didn't necessarily flourish in 2011 across the board, but I felt like I did a lot of good things, much like this season," Dickey said. "I left 2011 knowing I could be better at a lot of different things, and this year it's the same.
"I feel like it's a very similar year. I struck out more guys this year, I threw a lot more innings than I did. The next year after that, I won the Cy Young. So there's some hope in what has happened this year from a personal standpoint."
With the Mets in 2011, Dickey went just 8-13, but he posted an ERA nearly a full earned run below this year with a 3.28 mark while striking out significantly fewer batters -- just 134 over 208 innings, compared to 177 over 224 innings this season.
While 2013 pales in comparison to his breakout campaign in 2012, Dickey has no regrets coming to Toronto.
"I never thought, 'What have I done?'" Dickey said. "I knew that this was going to be a ginormous challenge. That's one of the reasons I signed here. I like that. I saw what my knuckleball could do in the NL East for three years, and I felt like I had it at a point where it's exciting to challenge the best hitters day in and day out. I feel like the AL East is representative of that."
"I do feel like I gathered a lot of information I can apply to next season that should be helpful. Now it all comes down to execution, of course. But to have information is half the battle."
Veteran reliever Oliver prepares to call it a career
TORONTO -- Darren Oliver is just hours away from making his final pitch in the Major Leagues, and the veteran left-hander is looking forward to hanging up the cleats for a final time.
After 20 seasons, more than 1,900 innings and two previous times thinking he had thrown his last pitch in the big leagues, the 42-year-old is ready to walk away from the game.
"Yeah, I really am," Oliver said. "I wish I could play baseball forever, but unfortunately, you know we can't. It's got to come to an end eventually."
While his career as a baseball player enters its final stage, the southpaw is looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with his kids and watch them grow.
"When you're playing baseball, you don't get to see them that much," Oliver said. "Actually, they're a little bit older now, so I got my hands full. But I still do the best I can."
Although Oliver chooses to save the bulk of his reminiscing for after his career comes to a close, he did mention that the World Series and hitting in the National League were some of his more memorable moments, and that he'll miss the camaraderie in the clubhouse and all the friends he's made over the years.
"It's a lot fun. We have a good time," Oliver said. "It's like when you go home in the offseason, all the things that we say in here, the little sayings that we have, your friends don't understand it, but they understand it, because you're with them every day."
There's still some discussion on how Oliver will throw his last pitch.
Despite starting only one game since 2006, Oliver -- who began his career as a starter and made 229 starts -- is hoping to make his final appearance in the Majors as a starter. But with the Rays still jostling for a postseason position in the season's final game, it's more likely Oliver will come in as a reliever.
"We don't know what's going to happen yet, but we could [start him] -- it's a possibility," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We just haven't decided yet. We've talked about doing it, we just haven't come to a conclusion yet."
Regardless of how that final outing goes, Oliver looks back fondly on his time in the big leagues.
"It was fun," Oliver said of his 20-year ride in the Majors. "It definitely lasted a little bit longer than I ever thought it would, so I feel blessed for that part. I never thought I was going to play that long. So I definitely say my prayers at night for that. It was lot of fun. I definitely don't have any regrets. I can definitely look in the mirror and be happy with what I'm seeing in return."
Blue Jays agree to sign Tournament 12 righty Case
TORONTO -- Tournament 12 instantly made an impact on one Canadian baseball player.
The Blue Jays announced on Saturday that they agreed to a deal with right-hander Andrew Case of Saint John, New Brunswick.
Case, 20, dazzled in the inaugural Tournament 12.
Case hurled a no-hitter in the semifinals vs. Quebec Blue. In the seven-inning contest, the Maritimes prospect walked a lone batter, striking out 13.
Over the tournament, Case threw nine shutout innings while striking out 19 and walking two.
"To pitch like that in front of everyone, in this place, it's something else," Case said after his no-hitter.
The signing of Case -- who is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and throws mainly a low-90s fastball and a slider in the 70s -- was exactly what Roberto Alomar was hoping for prior to the beginning of the tournament.
"I'm looking forward for this opportunity for certain guys who may never have this opportunity, and to find talent here in Canada," Alomar said in mid-September prior to the tournament. "For some of these guys, there's going to be guys here that we don't know, and maybe one of those guys take this opportunity and make their dream come true."
• Adam Lind made his return to the lineup on Saturday vs. the Rays, batting third as the Blue Jays' DH. Lind had missed the previous two games with a lingering back ailment.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.