As All-Star starter, Halladay trying to tune out trade speculation

Posted: July 14, 2009

ST. LOUIS - Bob Costas couldn't help himself. When it came time to announce the American League's starting pitcher for tonight's All-Star Game at Busch Stadium, he prefaced his remarks: "Representing, at least for the moment, the Toronto Blue Jays . . . "

Righthander Roy Halladay, sitting at the dais, laughed along with the rest of the crowd. Ever since Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi announced recently that one of baseball's best pitchers might be available for the right price before the July 31 trading deadline, speculation about where Halladay might end up has been rampant.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has to balance the temptation to go all in and try to win now against holding on to the best minor leaguers in an attempt to stay competitive as long as possible.

First baseman Ryan Howard, however, has no such qualms.

"That's for the front office to decide," he said. "But I'm good with trying to win now.

"That's just me. I'm not trying to upstage anybody. But ask anybody on this team. Look at guys like Matt Stairs and Geoff Jenkins and Jamie Moyer, who made it to the World Series for the first time last year. Not won it. Just made it. And you never know when you're going to get another chance."

As recently as yesterday afternoon, one league source pegged the Phillies and Angels as co-favorites to land Halladay. However, another source - seemingly more plugged in - indicated that the Phillies remain unwilling to trade top prospects such as righthander Kyle Drabek or anyone off the major league roster such as J.A. Happ, which makes the Phils unlikely to make a serious bid.

Halladay, who has full no-trade protection, said yesterday that all the speculation has begun to wear on him.

"It's tough," he said. "Obviously, I'm somewhere that I enjoy being and spent my entire career, so there's a lot that goes into it.

"But you know, I think, as a player, there's that will to win, and there's that will to do it in October. And basically, that's all this has been about. That I'd like a chance. And I'm not saying it won't be Toronto. It's just going to be what's best for the organization, are we going to be able to do that, and how do we move forward.

"It's been tough, because I do enjoy Toronto so much. You'd like to be three games up in first place and not have to deal with this."

No tampering

NL manager Charlie Manuel said he has no plans to talk to Roy Halladay during the All-Star break, even though the Phillies have been rumored as having an interest in him, but would have to persuade him to waive his no-trade clause.

"I can't do that," he said. "I think that's kind of out of line. Out of respect to the player, I should let him make his own decisions."

Asked whether he's interested in watching Halladay pitch - the righthander missed both interleague series against the Phillies this year - he responded with a joke. "I'm looking forward to seeing [NL starter] Tim Lincecum pitch better," he replied.

Health class

Tim Lincecum will be the National League's starting pitcher. Last year, he was selected for the game, but had to sit it out after coming down with flulike symptoms and dehydration the night before the game. So, of course, he was asked whether he planned to be extra careful last night.

"No, just try to load up on a bunch of liquids, stay hydrated," he said with a laugh. "I'll have [teammate Matt] Cain around my neck to keep me in my room. That's all I have planned."

Gee, thanks, Joe

Dodgers manager Joe Torre had something nice to say yesterday about Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, a late addition to the NL roster. He said Werth is a "pain in the ass." In baseball, that's meant as a compliment.

Werth said he accepted the compliment in the spirit it was intended, but also got the last word.

It seems that his grandfather, Ducky Schofield, and Torre were briefly Cardinals teammates in 1971. One day, Ducky asked Torre and Moe Drabowsky to pick up a pizza and deliver it.

"So they came to the house with the pizza," Werth said with a grin. "And when my grandfather opened the box, there was one piece left. So I know Joe Torre can be a pain in the ass, too!"

Extra innings

Charlie Manuel decided to bat hometown favorite Albert Pujols third instead of fourth tonight. "I wanted him to get an at-bat in the first inning," he said. "And maybe this will mean he'll get an extra at-bat, too. I plan on leaving him in the game for a while" . . . St. Louis last hosted the All-Star Game in 1966. *

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