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Dickey scales back in preparation for season

Dickey scales back in preparation for season

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- A few small red cuts flecked R.A. Dickey's right heel, where Tigers designated hitter Corey Jones accidentally spiked him during Sunday's game at Digital Domain Park. Dickey received two stitches and called it a "superficial wound," though the episode did underscore his importance to the team.

With Johan Santana unlikely to rack up even average pitch counts in April, the Mets may need Dickey to save their bullpen by lasting deep into games early in the season. If anyone on the staff can do it, it is Dickey, who pitched eight innings in his previous start before scaling back his workload Sunday in preparation for Opening Day. Dickey led the staff in innings pitched in 2011, and would have done the same in '10 had he been in the big leagues the entire season.

"I want to be prepared for that," Dickey said. "I like to push myself a little bit more in spring. I like to take it to the 100-pitch mark, and I did that, so that I have mentally an idea of what my body's going to need to do when I get out there when it counts. So I feel good with that. And if they want to lean on that, that's a luxury that I have."