TORONTO - R.A. Dickey, always thoughtful, said what anyone who has regularly watched the Blue Jays this season has been thinking after yet another clunker on Saturday.
"I think we're somewhat of a dysfunctional team right now," said Dickey, following an 8-1 loss to the Mariners, Toronto's fourth straight loss and eighth in nine games. "We're kind of searching for a way to score runs, a way to pitch well. We're doing a lot of things poorly, myself included. I don't know if it's a long slump or if we're just playing like a bad team right now. Hopefully that will change."
In the wake of a CBS Sports report, citing an anonymous source, of disharmony in the Blue Jays' clubhouse, it was important for Dickey to clarify what he meant by "dysfunctional." He said he hadn't read the story.
"Dysfunctional in the sense that as a baseball club, on the field, we aren't doing the things that good ball clubs need to do to win ballgames and that's my definition of dysfunctional on the baseball field," said Dickey. "As far as the clubhouse goes, we've got a group of great guys and the chemistry in here, nobody's blaming other people. We're all trying to own what ours is to own in this. But we're not very good right now and everybody knows it, that's no secret. We're going to try to work towards getting better and how that will manifest, I don't know, we'll see going forward."
Manager John Gibbons sees a team full of players putting too much pressure on themselves.
"Coming into the season with great expectations, I've got to say we haven't handled that well," said Gibbons. "I don't think there's a magic bullet. You wish everybody could relax. You get a couple of games go your way, a couple of blowout games, it can do wonders for you, something like that. Even, maybe, some kind of walk off win that helps everybody breathe easier but that hasn't happened yet. Eventually it will but it's definitely been a long time coming."
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Not after general manager Alex Anthopoulos' busy offseason. With high-profile acquisitions like Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Dickey, the Blue Jays were supposed to contend.
Instead, with only 10 wins in 31 games and more than a month into the season, they're swimming with the Marlins and floating aimlessly in space with the Astros.
The team batting average is a major league worst .225. Of anyone with more than 50 at-bats, Rajai Davis' .277 average is the club's best. The .291 on-base percentage is 28th in the 30-team league and 24 of the Blue Jays' 36 home runs have been solo shots.
The numbers don't tell the whole story, the story of how it's looked on the field. It's been disjointed, fragmented; at times the Blue Jays appear confused, stuck in their own heads to the point of near paralysis.
"It's not from lack of trying but you can pull anybody off the street to try," said Dickey. "We've got to figure out a better way to try, we've got to be more efficient on the mound. I can't speak for the hitters, that's out of my purview but as a pitcher and on a pitching staff, you know, we have to pitch better. And we have to start doing that pretty quickly."
Dickey fell to 2-5, allowing seven runs on six hits over six innings. Dickey's three losses at home match his total from last season's Cy Young performance with the Mets, when he went 10-3 at Citi Field.
"I'm just trying to execute pitches," said Dickey when asked if pitchers were feeling pressure to offset a stagnant offence. "I felt like I was doing a pretty good job; I mean six hits, you're not usually going to give up seven runs with six hits but when you give up home runs, especially with guys on base it can bite you and obviously today it did. I would have had to pitch very well for us to have a shot today and I didn't do that."
Dickey took as a positive the fact his neck pain was more tolerable, which means the nagging inflammation could be subsiding.
The Blue Jays have yet to win a series at home, losing five and splitting one against the White Sox.
Brandon Morrow will start on Sunday as the Jays attempt to avoid the sweep.