PHOENIX -- Two days ahead of his club facing Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson reflected on his experiences against the unique type of pitchers.
During his 17-year career, Gibson faced knuckleballers the likes of Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough and the D-backs' own radio man, Tom Candiotti.
"I think I did decent, I know I did good against Candy," Gibson said. "I moved way up in front of the box and scratched the front line off. I put my front foot on the line and was actually stepping across the line."
For Gibson, playing in era with multiple knuckleballers made the experience less unusual. But when the D-backs see Dickey on Sunday, they'll be batting against the only pitcher currently in the Majors who throws the floating offering.
"It's hard. Back in the day, we had more guys, but he's the only guy," Gibson said. "You have to come up with something different. It's not coming in there at 90 and it's not acting like any ball you've seen. So you have to find a way, it's like slow-pitch softball. You have to let the ball travel and see it. You've got to react deeper in the zone. If you go after it, you have no shot."
The D-backs already faced Dickey once this season and didn't have much success, as the 37-year-old tossed eight innings and allowed one run on four hits. Typically knuckleballers are slow to the plate, but in Dickey's case, he combats the slowness of the pitch with multiple techniques.
"He's got a lights-out move and he throws the ball much harder," Gibson said. "That's one of the distinctive things about Dickey, most knuckleballers you can run wild against, but he throws three different speeds and the fastball, so he's unique from the guys I faced."