R.A. Dickey pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Saturday's 7-2 win against the Washington Nationals, two days after seemingly pitching for the final time this season in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers. And that raised two issues:
New York Mets
• The use of a starting pitcher before Oliver Perez left Perez disrespected.
• And was it acceptable to use Dickey in relief and arguably risk an injury that would affect his 2011 season in a meaningless game?
"I was surprised, but that's not my decision," Perez said about Dickey entering for the eighth inning while the southpaw again went unused. "I'm just there. And when they tell me, 'Be ready,' I just have to be ready."
Said Jerry Manuel: "When you are in a situation where you're winning, you try to keep the same flow going."
New York Mets
Dickey said he was apprised of the possibility a couple of days ago by pitching coach Dan Warthen. Manuel explained that the rationale is to demonstrate to whomever is in charge that Dickey could be used between starts next season as a reliever.
"If anybody is here in the future, they can use his throw day to save an inning," Manuel said.
But is it really the right time for that demonstration, considering the administration is changing, the season essentially is over and Dickey's innings count is high? Manuel said there really was no need before, because the bullpen wasn't this short. (Pat Misch and Raul Valdes had been used as starters on consecutive days.)
Manuel added that he "probably" planned to use Dickey again Sunday to face a batter so that he could be removed and receive a standing ovation from the Citi Field faithful. While Dickey didn't feel it was proper to question Saturday's use, he openly suggested going again Sunday to receive adulation might be a little overboard. Saturday would be the normal day for Dickey to throw a bullpen session between starts, although there obviously is not another start coming this season. He tossed a scoreless eighth inning to protect a three-run lead.
"If I had my druthers, that was an ovation enough," Dickey said about Saturday's crowd reaction making it unnecessary to pitch in the season finale as well.
As for Saturday's use, Dickey said: "It wasn't that it was expected. I was prepared for it a little bit -- maybe not 100 percent prepared, but I wasn't completely checked out to where it was a lot to ask of me. I was willing and could do it. ... The tendency at this point in the year is to kind of just relax and decompress and check out a little bit. I was glad I was able to not do that. I think if I would have done that, that inning would have ended up a lot differently."
Manuel explained that his successor could have the option of using Dickey in relief between starts, and this was a test/demonstration of that ability. Still, Dickey has now thrown 235 innings this season between Triple-A Buffalo and the majors.
"I don't think it's my place to question the wisdom in it," Dickey said. "I think it's my place to be prepared to do what's my job to do, and that's to help the team win. That's really my job. That's what I get paid to do. And, as far as questioning their wisdom, or somebody else's wisdom, I feel like that's inconsequential if I'm prepared to do what I've got to do."
Could Dickey next season on his bullpen days between starts be used as a reliever because the knuckleball is less taxing than a conventional pitcher's pitches?
"I would say on a periodic basis," he said. "I don't think it should be the norm. ... For my mentality and for my preparation, it's better to get into a routine. But, an occasional time like this is very doable."
Dickey did say he feels badly for Perez, who went unused while a starting pitcher was used in relief. Perez has appeared in only two of the Mets' past 56 games.
"Sure, you hurt for Ollie," Dickey said. "You do. He's had a tough year as far as the things that have happened with him and to him, and the things that he's been asked to do and the way he's handled it that has been painted a certain way. I feel for him. But, at the same time, as a professional, I've got a job to do, regardless of his feelings. So I've got to compartmentalize that. But he's my teammate and I'm for him."
One positive byproduct, Dickey did trim his ERA to 2.84, seventh in the National League.
New York Mets
PARTING SHOT: David Wright hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning against Tyler Clippard, a pitch after Clippard went up and in on Wright with a fastball. Wright also had a pitch whiz behind him earlier in the game. And given how he may have been gunshy after the beaning from Matt Cain, homering after being pitched tight may have been particularly significant. Wright now has 29 homers and 103 RBIs.
"There have been some people that feel that's the way to get him out, but he responded in the right way," Manuel said. "I think what has happened is he's more under control now. ... Today he kind of took it, got upset, but stayed under control and hit a ball out of the park."
Said Wright: "You understand that pitching in is part of the game, but you get a ball thrown behind you, and then you get one kind of under your chin, you try to go in there and of course you want to do some damage. You want to go in there and punish a guy for trying to kind of pitch you that in, in that way."
Wright now has nearly tripled last season's 10-homer total, although he downplayed returning to his customary level.
"I've had years where I've hit 30-something," Wright said. "I've had years where I've hit 20-something. I've had years where I've hit 10 -- or a year where I hit 10. The home runs, it is what it is. That's what I feel like my job is here, to drive in runs. So if I hit 10 again next year and drive in a bunch of runs, I'll sign up for that right now. If not, it's always fun to hit home runs. It's nice to hit home runs. But, if they don't come, and you're still doing your job by driving in runs and scoring runs, that's what it's all about -- especially in the middle of the lineup."
New York Mets
CART RIGHT: Chris Carter had his 19th pinch hit of the season Saturday, a two-run homer in the eighth that capped the scoring. Carter's pinch-hit total ranks one behind Milwaukee's Joe Inglett for most in the majors.
Carter is in a tie for third place on the franchise's single-season pinch-hit list with Matt Franco (1997) and Jeff McKnight (1993). Rusty Staub has the franchise record with 24 pinch hits in 1983. Lenny Harris is second with 21 pinch hits in 2001.
W: Ryota Igarashi picked up his first major league win. He struck out Justin Maxwell to strand the bases loaded in the seventh to preserve a tie, then benefited from Wright's three-run homer an inning later. Bullpen coach Randy Niemann presented Igarashi with the scorecard afterward.