ATLANTA -- As R.A. Dickey has spent a little more than a decade dealing with the reality that he can lose a feel for the knuckleball as quickly as he can regain it within a start, he has come to appreciate the kind of patience Braves manager Brian Snitker showed
ATLANTA -- As R.A. Dickey has spent a little more than a decade dealing with the reality that he can lose a feel for the knuckleball as quickly as he can regain it within a start, he has come to appreciate the kind of patience Braves manager Brian Snitker showed when he allowed the veteran pitcher to battle through six stressful innings during Tuesday night's win over the Mets.
While dealing with a sore left quad muscle and a knuckleball that he rated a four on a scale of 1-10, Dickey surrendered a pair of home runs through the first three innings and then put two on before recording his first out in the fifth inning.
"It's an interesting element when you're sitting in that chair with [a knuckleballer on the mound]," Snitker said. "This is my first go-round. I've never had one in the Minor Leagues or Major Leagues. So it's an interesting dynamic to watch, and you just kind of got to let him go. It can come back at any time and carry him through an inning."
Fortunately, while getting acquainted with his new manager during Spring Training, Dickey had prepared Snitker for nights like this and the conversation the two shared after Nick Markakis' diving catch of Travis d'Arnaud's sinking liner ended the Mets' fifth-inning threat.
Dickey convinced Snitker to stick with him while holding a short leash during what proved to be an easy sixth inning.
"It's nice to have a manager that wants to communicate," Dickey said. "I feel like if we communicate well most of the time, we're going to get it right. I told him, 'I don't have a very good knuckleball and my quad is a bit of an issue. But at the same time, I could get it back this inning and give you one more inning and help save the 'pen,' and that's what we were able to do."
Though they have been together for just one month, Dickey has already come to view Snitker as one of the best communicators he has encountered while dealing with countless managers during a professional career that dates back to 1997.
Dickey has certainly earned some trust as he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his five starts, three of which have consisted of at least six innings. The 42-year-old veteran has consistently contributed effective starts despite the fact that he has not yet exited an outing satisfied with the consistent effectiveness of the knuckleball.
"The thing about a knuckleball is you have to live with it inning by inning," Dickey said. "I'm five starts in and I can honestly say I have yet to have my good knuckleball. There are points to some games where I throw a good one that gets me out of some jams or helps me navigate innings. But I haven't consistently had my good knuckleball."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.