R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball will have a personal catcher

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J.P. Arencibia is Toronto’s starting catcher, but it sounds like he won’t be behind the plate when R.A. Dickey pitches because the Blue Jays want to give the knuckleballer a personal catcher.

Last season Josh Thole caught 27 of Dickey’s starts for the Mets and he’s the leading candidate to fill the personal catcher role this year after coming along with Dickey in the blockbuster trade, but Henry Blanco is also an option if the Blue Jays prefer him in the backup role.

Manager John Gibbons explained the logic behind using a personal catcher by telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com: “They have to get the [side sessions] in, they have to spend a lot of time working with Dickey, because it’s an unusual and unique pitch. It takes a lot of work.”

And of course no catcher starts 162 games anyway, so having a scheduled day off for Arencibia once every five games could be a positive thing. Arencibia started 91 games last season and 118 games in 2011.

Former number one pick Mark Appel DFA’d by the Phillies

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Life comes at you fast.

The Phillies have designated pitcher Mark Appel for assignment. Appel was the number one overall pick, taken by the Houston Astros, in the 2013 draft before being dealt to the Phillies in 2015. He was selected one slot ahead of Kris Bryant and 31 slots above Aaron Judge, by the way.

Appel, who is somehow already 26, posted a 5.27 ERA and 60/53 K/BB ratio over 82 Triple-A innings in 2017. He’s had a history of bone spurs and other ailments that have hindered his development.

It could still come together for Appel in a new location — the Phillies have seven days to trade or waive him — but at this point you can’t consider him a prospect.