NEW YORK -- R.A. Dickey was pitching more than a decade ago for the Class A Charlotte Rangers, his first professional team, when an unsuspecting runner strayed a bit too far from second base. In one sudden motion, Dickey lifted his back foot from the pitching rubber, twisted his torso and fired a sidearm bullet to second base.
"My body took over," Dickey said. "It was just a total reaction, very instinctive. And from then on, I had something."
Throughout the ensuing decade, Dickey has spent hours perfecting the admittedly unnatural move, and estimates he has nabbed around a dozen runners straying too far off second base. His latest victim was Marlins outfielder Mike Cameron, whom he caught off second base in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Monday at Citi Field.
It helps, Dickey says, that he does not possess an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, allowing him to snap his arm at a more unnatural angle.
"In all honesty, it's just a little bit more intense than a left-handed stepoff move," Dickey said. "I'm putting a little more torque on my arm."
It is a violent move with favorable results. Since becoming a full-time big leaguer last season, Dickey ranks fifth amongst right-handed pitchers with five pickoffs.
"If I make a good throw, it's so quick," Dickey said of his unusual move. "It's going to be bang-bang almost every time."