R.A. Dickey leaves start with neck and back tightness

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According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, R.A. Dickey left his start against the White Sox tonight for precautionary reasons due to neck and back tightness. He was visited by a trainer after he struck out DeWayne Wise swinging for the second out in the sixth inning, but he stayed on to complete the frame. Esmil Rogers then came out to pitch the seventh.

It’s too bad, as Dickey was cruising through his best start as a member of the Blue Jays. The knuckleballer allowed just two hits and a walk over six shutout frames while notching a season-high seven strikeouts.

Dickey, who was acquired from the Mets during the offseason, owns a 4.30 ERA and 20/9 K/BB ratio in 23 innings over his first four starts this season. While the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner got off to a shaky start with his new club, he has allowed just one run combined over his last two outings.

UPDATE: Good news. According to John Lott of the Toronto Post, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons expects Dickey to make his next scheduled start.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.