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Dickey welcomes heavy spring workload

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- R.A. Dickey knows he has a heavy workload ahead of him this season, and that's one reason why his spring is off to such a busy start.

Dickey threw 65 pitches over the course of four innings vs. the Phillies on Tuesday night. It was just his second outing, but Dickey's already a full inning beyond what any other Toronto pitcher is throwing at this time of the year.

The goal is to throw 100 or more pitches at least a couple of times before the end of spring. His spring routine was thrown off a bit last last year because of the World Baseball Classic, but now it's back to business as usual.

"I may err on the side of [throwing] more [pitches] because I like that, I need the work," Dickey said. "It's nice, mentally, to go out there for a couple of clean innings after an inning where you give up a two-run home run. You have to simulate some of those things that might happen during the season.

"That part was great for me. I was able to do that. I had a good fastball today, my velocity felt good, it was definitely something to build on. It was very encouraging."

Dickey's outing against the Phillies certainly wasn't perfect, but it had some encouraging signs. The movement on his knuckleball was so drastic that it caused some issues with his command, but that's exactly the type of practice he needs to iron things out before Opening Day.

The 39-year-old allowed four hits and three walks while striking out two over his four innings of work. A line like that could be problematic in a few weeks, but right now the most important thing is building up arm strength and throwing as many innings as he comfortably can.

"One of the things you have to be able to do in the AL East is have rough innings, come back and right the ship for a few innings so that your bullpen doesn't get crushed," Dickey said. "Practicing that for me is important. I like to be a guy that can be depended upon to go deep into games even when it might be three, four runs, but you go seven or eight innings and you've given yourself a real chance to win the game.

"That's the kind of game I felt like mentally I was in today. It was a game that I didn't have my best knuckleball control-wise, but it was moving a lot and I had other things that I could do to get into the late innings."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays, R.A. Dickey