LOS ANGELES -- Some managers do not like their pitchers to appear in the All-Star Game, no matter the context. Not Terry Collins, who understands the significance that next month's Midsummer Classic will have on knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
"If you have the history of R.A. Dickey, I'm not going to deny him a chance to pitch in an All-Star Game that it's taken him 18 years to get to," Collins said of a pitcher whose big league career seemed finished as recently as 26 months ago. "I would never do that."
Of more concern to Collins is how best to utilize Dickey in the days leading up to and following his first All-Star Game. The Mets have kicked around the idea of pitching Dickey next Wednesday on regular rest, skipping one of their other starters. That would allow them to use Dickey one additional time on short rest before the break, either as a starting pitcher or out of the bullpen.
But Collins is also wary both of overloading Dickey and of disrupting the rest of his rotation -- particularly left-hander Johan Santana. The manager intimated Saturday that most likely, he will pitch Dickey on his regularly scheduled day, Thursday against the Phillies, which would allow the knuckleballer to appear in Tuesday's All-Star Game on regular rest. He could then start Santana in the first game after the break and Dickey in the second game.
"I've got him, but we're talking the first week of July," Collins said of potentially using Dickey on short rest before the break. "You can say what you want, that he's a knuckleballer. But I'm going to tell you something -- R.A. Dickey throws 85 mph and he's throwing an 82 mph knuckleball, which means there's some wear and tear on his arm. I'm not burying him in the first week of July."
All that's clear right now is that when National League manager Tony La Russa reveals his roster Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on TBS, Dickey will be on it. The knuckleballer leads the NL with 12 wins, ranks second with 116 strikeouts, third with a 2.15 ERA and first by a wide margin with a 0.88 WHIP. At this point, Dickey's only real competition to start the game in Kansas City is Giants right-hander Matt Cain, though La Russa has until the day before the game to name his starting pitcher. Dickey and Cain both have at least one more start between now and then.