Nationals

Feeling 'numbness,' Dickey sad to leave New York

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Feeling 'numbness,' Dickey sad to leave New York

NEW YORK (AP) R.A. Dickey picked up his phone on Saturday, and New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told the NL Cy Young Award winner he had 72 hours to negotiate a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

``OK, here we go. I probably am never going to be a Met again,'' Dickey remembered thinking. ``I think I had a wash of just numbness come over me, really.''

A day after he was traded to Toronto and finalized a $30 million, three-year contract with the Blue Jays, the 38-year-old knuckleballer talked about his exit from New York after three seasons that revived his career and made him a fan favorite. And he discussed the stimulation he will get from joining a contender.

``I think it's important for me to grieve leaving New York,'' he said Tuesday. ``I had a proverbial home there. I had a home among fans. I had a home in an organization. I had a lot of success there, and I think it's important for me to be sad about that for a moment before I move on to the next feeling.''

And that next feeling is glee about joining the amped-up Blue Jays, who have added five All-Stars during the offseason, with Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Melky Cabrera preceding Dickey north.

``I can't tell you how excited I am to be part of an organization that's committed to winning and putting a product on the field that the fans can be excited about,'' Dickey said. ``A lot of people say these things at the beginning of spring training and the beginning of all new things, but I think in this particular case that the reason it feels so good is because it's so true, and you don't feel like you're trying to convince yourself of the things that you're saying.''

After going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and leading the NL with 230 strikeouts, Dickey was scheduled to earn $5.25 million next year with the Mets. At first they offered a deal adding $14 million over two years.

``I didn't necessarily take that first offer as a convincing slap in the face,'' he said.

New York later increased its offer to an additional $20 million over two years, still short what Dickey wanted. And the pace of talks was slower than one of his knuckleballs.

``I wasn't real sure why because we didn't hear any urgency on their part to try to bring this thing to a close one way or the other,'' Dickey said. ``And that's when I kind of started trying to put two and two together.''

Trade talks escalated after the Mets' Dec. 11 holiday party, when Dickey told reporters he likely would leave as a free agent after next season if he didn't have a new deal. In retrospect, he felt unprepared to speak with media that day.

``I must admit to you and repent the timing because I feel badly about using a time such as that to become emotional, and I want to apologize for that because that wasn't the venue necessarily to do that,'' he said.

So he's moving out of town in a deal that also sent catchers Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Blue Jays and brought the Mets top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud and veteran catcher John Buck, plus minor league right-hander Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Wuilmer Becerra. It was much like the Mets' 1977 trade that sent Tom Seaver to Cincinnati for Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry.

Dickey wondered about an article that appeared last weekend in the New York Post questioning whether he was a good teammate on the Mets.

``People have sent me the articles about not being a good clubhouse guy and my response to that is go ask my teammates. Are there quotes around and has anybody come out saying R.A. is a bad teammate?'' he said. ``I don't know if `smeared' is the right word. I think I just feel sad about it. ... It seemed beyond coincidence.''

NOTES: When he was introduced during a conference call Tuesday, Syndergaard apologized for a posting on his Twitter account this month in which he used an anti-gay slur. ... D'Arnaud said he doesn't feel pressure to produce because he was obtained for Dickey: ``I just try to focus on what I could control, just work hard and do as much as a can to become a better player each and every day.'' ... The Mets obtained OF Collin Cowgill from Oakland for minor league INF Jefry Marte. ... Mets closer Frank Francisco had surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. He should begin throwing in six weeks and is expected to be ready for opening day.

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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