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Radio broadcaster Sparks knuckles up for Astros

Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- Former Major League pitcher and Astros radio color analyst Steve Sparks threw knuckleballs to Houston hitters in the batting cages before Thursday's contest against the Blue Jays in preparation for Toronto starter R.A. Dickey.

Sparks, a former knuckleballer who enjoyed a nine-year career in the big leagues, did the same thing last season when the Astros visited Toronto and manager Bo Porter said his players appreciated it.

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TORONTO -- Former Major League pitcher and Astros radio color analyst Steve Sparks threw knuckleballs to Houston hitters in the batting cages before Thursday's contest against the Blue Jays in preparation for Toronto starter R.A. Dickey.

Sparks, a former knuckleballer who enjoyed a nine-year career in the big leagues, did the same thing last season when the Astros visited Toronto and manager Bo Porter said his players appreciated it.

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"Anytime you are facing a knuckleballer and you have the opportunity for someone to throw knuckleballs to you in pregame you should take advantage of it," Porter said.

The strategy worked out well for the Astros last year as the club scored five runs on seven hits against Dickey in an eventual 12-6 loss. Sparks predicted that Marc Krauss would have a big game after he threw to him in the cages last year and he did, as Krauss went 2-for-3 against Dickey with a homer and four RBIs.

This time, Sparks has another player in mind.

"He said that [Chris] Carter is his pick to click," Porter said.

Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com.

Houston Astros