Sunday, March 24, 2013
By Jason Catania
This has been another rough spring for Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay. It only seems to get worse each time the right-hander steps on the mound.
In Halladay's latest start on Saturday -- against the Blue Jays Triple-A team -- the veteran once again didn't look good, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Halladay, who'd had his previous outing cut short after just an inning because of a stomach virus, retired only seven of the 18 hitters he faced.
Most troubling is that the big right-hander's velocity, which has been a lightning rod this spring, remained in the mid-to-high 80s, Stark reports. Only once did Halladay register an M-P-H reading that began with a "9" and that was in the first inning.
We already heard news last week that Halladay's run of 10 straight Opening Day starts -- the longest active streak in the majors -- will come to an end, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. The Phillies have announced that lefty Cole Hamels will get the nod instead.
Lawrence pointed out at the time that Hamels had been in line to start the first game of the season from the beginning of camp, so this isn't so much news as it is a formality. Still, it's no secret Halladay has not looked like himself this spring, and his fastball velocity is down; ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney mentioned on a recent Baseball Tonight podcast that Halladay's heater has been in the mid-80s. Then there's the fact that both manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee expressed concern after Halladay's a particularly poor outing last week, in which he surrendered seven runs, six hits and four walks against the Tigers -- in just 2 2/3 innings.
Coming off an injury-plagued 2012 when he battled shoulder weakness, which started when he struggled last spring, Halladay claims that he'll be ready, as Stark writes. But with the innings and age piling up on Doc, who'll turn 36 in May, one wonders if he can return to his former Cy Young form.