Once the story hit the Internet, the hyperbole followed.
"I was not wrestling snakes," Halladay said. "I was nowhere near snakes."
And so begins Halladay's third season in Philadelphia, a place he remains steadfastly devoted to despite the disappointment of the first two years.
Halladay spoke passionately about the city and its fans. He hasn't reached his ultimate goal of winning a World Series, but he still believes he made the correct choice.
"I realize that I'm not getting younger," Halladay said. "I'm probably going to play less going forward than I've played already, so I understand that. But you know, the greatest thing that's ever happened to me was coming here.
"So to this point, I have no regrets. If I go the rest of my career and never get another shot, I'll have no regrets."
Halladay typically has a side project each spring, and refining his cutter is one current priority. In talks with pitching coach Rich Dubee, Halladay said, the two determined the pitch was too inconsistent during the season. Even at that, Halladay called the adjustments "nothing really groundbreaking."
A 2.35 ERA and another second-place Cy Young Award finish can make spring simpler.
Halladay said he's been throwing two weekly bullpen sessions for the last month. He's been training at the Phillies facility for the majority of the winter. He's ready to be in Philadelphia again.
"People have been great to me," Halladay said. "They really have. It's been unbelievable, and if any player ever asks me about playing in Philadelphia, what I thought it was and what it actually is, it's completely different. People are friendly. I've never had anybody yell at me driving down the street. It really has been an unbelievable experience, and I'd tell any player that."
Contreras on a mound
For the first time since September elbow surgery, Jose Contreras threw off a mound Tuesday. A large Phillies front-office contingent watched the session. When Contreras finished throwing, Antonio Bastardo clapped.
"He threw very, very well," Dubee said.
That leaves the 40-year-old Contreras not far behind the rest of the pitchers in camp. But Dubee cautioned that the team would be conservative with Contreras this spring to keep him fresh for the season.
Dubee said he was not surprised by the progress.
"Our reports have been good in the offseason and how he progressed through his long-toss program," Dubee said. "He was up here during our minicamp throwing pain-free."
Shane Victorino arrived in camp, but not without Jimmy Rollins poking fun at his Monday appearance on the CBS drama Hawaii Five-0. Rollins had a red carpet leading to Victorino's locker with a director's chair and lights waiting for the outfielder. Victorino is a free agent at season's end. . . . Pitcher Chad Qualls reported to camp after being excused for personal reasons.
Phillies' Halladay speaks passionately about the city and its fans. C6.
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
at firstname.lastname@example.org or @magelb on Twitter.