NEW YORK -- The possibility of R.A. Dickey pitching regularly on short rest down the stretch is over. The Mets mapped it out and, citing Dickey's age (37) and workload (a league-leading 162 1/3 innings), decided that a few extra starts are not worth risking the veteran's long-term health.
But with Dickey leading the National League Cy Young Award conversation, manager Terry Collins said he still might consider using the knuckleballer more often in September in pursuit of a 20-win season.
"Will I? I certainly might, yes," Collins said. "He certainly deserves that shot. I thought Jose Reyes deserved to win the batting title last year, too. I got criticized for that, and I may get criticized for this."
Collins referenced the final game of last season, when he approved Reyes' plan to bunt in his first at-bat and immediately depart, giving him a near-insurmountable lead in his quest for the batting title. Reyes ultimately won the title, but was booed as he left the field, bringing Collins to tears after the game.
Still, that experience will not prevent Collins from doing something similar with Dickey if history is on the line. The Mets have not had a Cy Young Award winner since Dwight Gooden in 1985, nor a 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990.
"R.A. Dickey does not want the perception that he's pitching for the Cy Young Award -- that's not the perception he wants out there by any stretch of the imagination," Collins said. "The only thing he wants to do is help this team win, and if that means he has to pitch more, he's willing to pitch more. But he doesn't want it to look like we're just running him out there to win a Cy Young Award. That's not how he's wound up."
Originally, the Mets discussed using Dickey on short rest as a way to win more games as a team, while providing extra rest for oft-injured pitchers Johan Santana, Chris Young and Jon Niese. But as the Mets fell rapidly out of contention over the past five weeks, Collins changed his thinking.
Dickey, for his part, said what Collins expected him to say: That individual achievements are secondary.
"I would not want to be on three days' rest purely to win more games," Dickey said. "If we can claw back in this thing and they think that I give our team the best chance to win, or a good chance to win, then I'm willing to do that. And I've voiced that. But we'll see where it goes."