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R.A. Dickey may help Josh Thole catch on with the Blue Jays

Josh Thole reacts after flying out to end

Josh Thole reacts after flying out to end the 8th inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. (May 4, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

DUNEDIN, Fla. - Josh Thole, the Mets' starting catcher the past two seasons, was a bit of an afterthought in the R.A. Dickey trade.

But he could be an important piece of the puzzle for his new team. The Blue Jays need to keep someone on the roster who can catch Dickey's knuckleball.

Thole, who reported to spring training Monday along with Dickey and former Mets catcher Mike Nickeas (also part of the trade), will compete for a spot to back up J.P. Arencibia.

Another former Mets catcher, Henry Blanco, also is in camp as a non-roster invitee for manager John Gibbons. (Gibbons is a former Mets catcher, too.)

Arencibia wants to learn to catch Dickey and will be doing so for the United States in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. But general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said he might keep Blanco and stash Thole in the minors, even though Thole has a guaranteed two-year, $2.5-million contract.

Thole was the primary catcher for Dickey's 20-win Cy Young Award season in 2012. A Met since he was drafted in the 13th round in 2005, Thole said he was "caught off-guard" when he learned he was part of the Dickey megadeal.

"It was definitely weird," Thole said. "Today is like the first day of junior high."

Thole, 26, had a subpar 2012, batting .234 with one home run and 21 RBIs. It's not the impression he wanted to leave in New York.

"I had a pretty poor offensive year last year," said Thole, a career .261 hitter. "You go out looking like you were a ---- player, a ---- hitter. They gave me every opportunity."

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