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Jays' Dickey works to fight sex trafficking

DUNEDIN — Before last year, R.A. Dickey's life already made for a best-selling novel, his tale as unpredictable as the trajectory of his trademark knuckleball.

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But since Dickey, 38, released his soul-searching memoir, Wherever I Wind Up, in March — revealing the sexual abuse he suffered as a child — he has experienced more than enough for a stirring sequel.

There was Dickey's breakthrough All-Star season for the Mets, which earned him the National League Cy Young Award this past season. Then came the blockbuster December trade to the Blue Jays, who handed Dickey a two-year, $25 million contract extension to be their ace.

"There was a time in my life I would think to myself, 'When's the other shoe going to drop?' " Dickey said. "Like, looking for the next trauma around the corner. Thankfully, I've grown out of that place. Now I'm just so involved with trying to invest in the moment."

Dickey has invested a lot in giving back, and he did just that last month in an eye-opening, weeklong trip to India on the behalf of the Bombay Teen Challenge, a Christian organization that rescues women and children from sex trafficking. He was there to celebrate the opening of a clinic in Mumbai's red-light district, having raised $130,000 to build the center by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro the previous year.

"People can discover that there's a different way to live than they've been living," Dickey said. "It's the poorest of the poor. No prenatal care, a lot of deformities, open sewage, rats as big as possums running around. The depravity is just otherworldly. And there's this clinic right in the middle of it."

Dickey took his two daughters — Gabriel, 11, and Lila, 9 — to give them a heart for humanity, showing them what good can be done, turning a brothel into a beacon of hope.

"I was able to play a little cricket with some of the kids that had been rescued out," Dickey said. "It was a learning experience."

The games of cricket were the extent of Dickey's throwing program for the week, but once he came to Jays camp, he felt like he "didn't miss a beat" with his knuckleball. That's good news for Toronto, which is expecting Dickey to lead a reloaded rotation that includes fellow additions Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson.

"He's that guy," manager John Gibbons said of Dickey. "We think he's going to put us over the top."

The spotlight continues to shine on Dickey, including national media interviews with the CBS News crew that has been following him around in preparation for a 60 Minutes episode that will air later this spring.

But Dickey has remained grounded, staying in the moment and keeping in perspective a whirlwind journey that's fit for a Hollywood script.

"I hadn't really put it together, how all those things have been since the book came out," Dickey said. "I don't really think about it that way. I think about: 'How can I get the most out of this very moment?' And then, ultimately, you look back and someone's told you that you've done this, this or that.

"Okay, well, what's next?"

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Jays' Dickey works to fight sex trafficking 02/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, February 15, 2013 10:51pm]

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