Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/6/12

Now that New York Mets right-hander R.A. Dickey is a first-time All-Star at age 37, the knuckleballer is aiming to start the game for the National League.

But he might have put that assignment in jeopardy by giving up five runs to the Phillies in seven innings Thursday, saving one of his worst outings of the season for his final start of the first half. Dickey ultimately escaped with a no-decision when David Wright's single off Jonathan Papelbon gave the Mets a walk-off 6-5 victory.

Earlier Thursday, National League manager Tony La Russa indicated on a conference call that he might be wary of starting Dickey because of how difficult it is to catch his knuckleball. Rather than ask the NL's starting catcher, 25-year-old Buster Posey, do the honors, La Russa could start somebody else and have Dickey pitch to more experienced backstop Yadier Molina later in the game.

"I've given that a lot of thought, but there is an issue about catching him and what spot to use him," La Russa said. "His season has gotten everyone's attention, including our staff's, and we're talking about the best way to win the game with our personnel, and how we use Dickey will be a part of that."

There might have been outcry over such a decision had Dickey's statistics been so good that they demanded a start. And for most of the first half, they were. But now that Dickey has just one quality start in his last three outings, his ERA has increased to 2.40, its highest mark in nearly a month.

Then again, Dickey's primary competitor for the start, San Francisco's Matt Cain, gave up three runs Thursday to increase his own ERA to 2.62. Dickey also has 12 wins to Cain's 10 and 123 strikeouts to Cain's 118. Statistics aside, it would be an intriguing human interest story for the born-again knuckleballer to start his first All-Star Game at age 37.

Now that Dickey's first half is complete, that decision is entirely in La Russa's hands.

"You walk that thin line," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "The game means something now. I appreciate the fan votes, I think it's great. But at the same token this game means something, so the best players should be out there."

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