It was a long anticipated debut for Jays fans, but the first start by the new staff ace R.A. Dickey proved to be less than spectacular in a 3-2 loss to the Red Sox at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

With a hard wind blowing in from right-centre field, the NL Cy Young winning knuckleballer allowed two runs in two innings, one of them on a wild pitch that bounced away from catcher J.P. Arencibia. Of four hits allowed, two were groundballs and the others soft line drives over the infield.

“I was really encouraged,” Dickey said. “Sometimes when the wind’s blowing at your back, it kind of pushes that pitch flight before it has time to take that little extra break. So I was happy I threw a large strike percentage today. All in all, it was real good. You might have two or three games per year where the wind’s blowing in like that, but it’s part of the game. You’ve got to learn to deal with it.”

As for Arencibia, it was his first attempt at handling the knuckleball in a game. He will likely be asked to catch Dickey at the World Baseball Classic, but when the season begins it may be Josh Thole or Henry Blanco. Dickey was encouraging by the progress of Arencibia.

“He did good,” Dickey said. “We’re still early. We’re still learning each other and we’re working on that. I still anticipate no complications at all as far as him receiving. It will be better than it was today. I threw some pretty good ones today that he handled well. But consistently, he’s going to see a better knuckleball as the spring goes on, so we’ll see what happens.”