Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher R.A. Dickey, top, pitches in the bullpen to Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin, bottom, during baseball spring training in Dunedin, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/the Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
the Canadian Press, Nathan Denette
February 25, 2015

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) Veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has grown accustomed to seeing new faces behind the plate during his two-plus years with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Since a trade in December 2012 sent the NL Cy Young Award winner from the New York Mets to Toronto, Dickey has worked with several catchers.

There's been Henry Blanco, J.P. Arencibia, Erik Kratz and Josh Thole, who was once hand-picked by Dickey to be his personal catcher.

That carousel, however, appears to have been halted for now.

On Wednesday morning, Dickey partnered with newcomer Russell Martin for the first time during a 65-pitch bullpen session.

Using a larger mitt he borrowed from Thole, Martin misplayed just two pitches. Halfway through the workout, Martin asked Dickey to stop telling him what was coming.

Martin has limited experience catching the knuckleball over his eight-year career, most recently with retired righty Charlie Haeger in 2009 and 2010 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Following the 30-minute session, Dickey flashed Martin a thumbs-up and told him it was ''perfect.''

''Russell's a great athlete, but he's more than that,'' Dickey said. ''He's got a real willingness and desire to unpack what it takes to catch it well. So, I don't anticipate us having trouble.''

Martin, who signed a five-year, $82 million contract in November after spending the last two seasons with the Pirates, said that willingness to work with Dickey stems in part from not wanting to be out of the lineup.

''I don't want just because it's Dickey pitching, that I'm not playing,'' Martin said. ''I just want our manager (John Gibbons) to have the opportunity if he wants to put me in and if I feel good, that I can play. I just want to give him options, really, and it's as simple as that.''

Martin doesn't expect things to always go as smoothly, though. The 2007 Gold Glove Award winner said growing pains will come with the learning process.

''This was just Day One,'' Martin said. ''Just because I was good today, doesn't mean I'll be as good the next time. I'm just going to try to keep getting better and try to get more comfortable with it. But so far, I definitely feel like I can do it.''

Dickey does, too.

''He's a craftsman,'' Dickey said. ''He wants to be good at his craft and it shows in his pedigree and the things he's been able to achieve and the reputation that he's gotten. ... I think because of that, he's going to have a real good opportunity to give himself the best chance at catching it.''

NOTES: LHP Brett Cecil threw his first bullpen session of the spring without any visible limitations. Cecil, a candidate for the team's vacant closer role, missed the first two days of workouts recovering from the flu. ''He looked really good,'' Gibbons said. ''I thought he looked a little pale, but I thought he threw the ball well.''

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