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.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.