Phillies Notes: Phillies' Halladay finishes Grapefruit League in fine form

Posted: March 28, 2011

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Another National League Cy Young Award will be awaiting Roy Halladay after the season if the ace of all clubs pitches anything close to the way he did during the Phillies' Grapefruit League schedule.

Halladay completed his exhibition work Sunday with three scoreless innings against the Atlanta Braves, lowering his spring training ERA to 0.42. He allowed just one run, struck out 16, and walked six batters in 212/3 innings this spring. After the Phillies beat the Braves, 6-1, Halladay declared himself ready for Friday's season opener against the Houston Astros at Citizens Bank Park.

"I feel good," Halladay said. "I feel like I'm happy where everything is, and I'm anxious to get going."

The fact that Halladay shut down the Braves in his abbreviated final start should come as no surprise. A year ago he won the Cy Young Award on the strength of his work against National League East teams, going 14-1 with a 1.94 ERA in 15 starts.

"It's just you play them more," Halladay said. "You get to know them better. You have a better idea how you want to go at guys. The first time you face them, you feel your way through. After that, you know their approach."

Halladay will make his ninth straight opening-day start overall and his second for the Phillies. He admitted the start of a new season still excites him.

"You definitely anticipate starting the season," he said. "Sometimes you almost have to be a little cautious and not make too big a deal out of it. But I am always excited for the start of the season. You put in all the work over the winter and in spring training, and to be able to actually put it to use is kind of a relief."

Halladay said there is no special significance in getting this opening-day start on a staff filled with aces. Roy Oswalt, for example, will not make an opening-day start for the first time since 2002.

"I don't read a lot into it," Halladay said. "If it was based on what guys have done in their careers, it could be a coin flip. I guess winning the Cy Young Award the year before helps you get out there, but it's not an ego thing for me."

Martinez the man?

The competition for two infield jobs was reduced to four Sunday when the Phillies assigned Josh Barfield to their minor-league camp.

That left Luis Castillo, Michael Martinez, Pete Orr, and Delwyn Young fighting for the final two jobs. Castillo, who went 0 for 3 Sunday, is in a little different category than the others because he will likely either be the opening-day second baseman or be released.

Martinez, a Rule 5 draft pick, would have to be offered back to the Washington Nationals if he does not make the 25-man roster, but it sounds as if he has impressed manager Charlie Manuel with the way he has played defense.

"Let me tell you something, if he plays defense in the big leagues like he has here, he'll have no trouble playing," Manuel said. "He made some plays [Saturday] in [Lakeland] . . . a couple of them were off the chart. One of them might have been the best play I've ever seen."

Manuel said he considers Young more of an outfielder and bat off the bench, and the extra outfield jobs on this squad are going to John Mayberry Jr. and Ross Gload.

Lidge set for MRI

Phillies closer Brad Lidge, sidelined by shoulder soreness and expected to open the season on the disabled list, was examined by team physician Michael Ciccotti on Saturday and is scheduled to undergo an MRI examination on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

"He was actually better in his exam than he was a couple days ago," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He still has some posterior soreness in his shoulder.

"We don't have a diagnosis until we know what the MRI looks like. We'll treat it from there."

Polanco update

Placido Polanco, playing for the second time in three days after missing much of the spring with a hyperextended left elbow, went 0 for 2 against the Braves. Manuel said Polanco felt fine and will play again Monday.

"He's OK," the manager said. "He's not hurting, he said."

Extra bases

Raul Ibanez hit his fourth home run of the spring and Ryan Howard hit his fifth. The Phils improved to 19-13, with their final Grapefruit League game scheduled for Monday against Houston. Cliff Lee will pitch in a minor-league game Monday because the Phillies face the Astros in their season-opening series. . . . Catchers Tuffy Gosewisch and Dane Sardinha were also assigned to minor-league camp.

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