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3/9/2014 5:50 P.M. ET

Dickey prepares for season by increasing pitch count

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was able to stretch out his pitch count to 82 while working five scoreless innings Sunday against the Astros. The plan was to try to get to 85 pitches, so he came close enough.

"Being older, I know what I need to do to prepare, and this is one of the things that helps me feel confident when I take the mound ... knowing that I've gone deep in games in the spring," Dickey said. "That way, when it happens during the season, I'm able to do it right from the get-go and not have to build into it."

Dickey should be pushing 100 pitches his next time out before he begins to dial it down a bit prior to the start of the regular season. Dickey is able to go at a much better pace than he did last year while trying to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.

"It's not even close," Dickey said. "It's like getting to start over and do it the right way. You feel like you're getting a chance to reboot. It makes you somewhat regret not being able to invest the time that was really needed last year.

"You don't know that in the moment, and you're getting to do a really fantastic honor, but having spent a lot of time with my guys on the team and getting to prepare my body, it just feels normal."

Santana would be welcomed by Dickey

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The reports that the Blue Jays were interested in signing free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana certainly sat well with pitcher R.A. Dickey.

"Any time you add a potential piece that's got the pedigree of Ervin Santana, then you're adding a valuable piece," Dickey said.

The Orioles are also in the running for Santana, having reportedly offered one year and $14 million. No matter the price, he would be a valuable addition to a Blue Jays rotation in which J.A. Happ's back has been bothering him and Brandon Morrow is still bouncing back from season-ending forearm surgery last spring.

"So there are a couple of question marks," Dickey said. "So to have the depth that Ervin provides us with would be an incredible benefit for our team. I think everybody would welcome him with open arms."

Santana, who's won at least 16 games three times in his career, was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts for the Royals last year, throwing 211 innings.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.