Halladay complimented Joseph on his ability to call a game.
"He wanted to talk a lot in between innings, which really isn't my thing," Halladay said, laughing. "But I didn't mind it because he was trying to get a feel for what I wanted to do. I thought he did a great job. He was very on top of things. He was aware of what was going on in the game and the situations. That's what you want to see."
Pitching coach Rich Dubee loved it.
"You know what? That takes some stones," Dubee said. "That's what you're looking for out of a catcher, some leadership. That's pretty good right there. You have a two-time Cy Young winner with almost 200 wins and you feel confident enough that you can go up and talk to him. That's perfect."
"Roy might not be the perfect guy" to disturb, he said, "but that's good."
It will be lost among the war of words and history between these teams, but Halladay did more Wednesday than just throw a pitch behind Tyler Moore's back in apparent retaliation for Chase Utley's being plunked.
Halladay pitched four scoreless innings in the Phillies' 6-3 win and allowed two hits with a walk. He fanned two Nationals. Washington brought only one regular, Denard Span, on the long journey to Clearwater. Still, Halladay noted improvement in his 56 pitches (33 were strikes).
"I felt like there were some improvements over my last outing," Halladay said.
His first two innings were the model of efficiency. He retired all six batters he faced on a total of 23 pitches. The two hits he later allowed were both doubles. One was by Moore, immediately after the pitch sailed behind his back.
Howard would play
When Mark Teixeira injured his wrist before the United States even played an exhibition game in advance of the World Baseball Classic, it left the team with a hole at first base.
American officials settled on Kansas City's Eric Hosmer as the replacement Wednesday and never contacted the Phillies regarding Ryan Howard.
Howard, who was speculated as an option, was definitely interested.
"It's always a great situation to represent your country. But coming off the [Achilles tendon] injury, the team may have concerns," Howard said. "My personal opinion, I would love to. But I'm not sure how all of that works."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team would not have approved the move without a conversation about Howard's readiness. That talk never needed to happen.
Competition for the wide-open bullpen race was tight again Wednesday. Mike Stutes, Justin De Fratus, and Jake Diekman each pitched scoreless innings. The only Phillies pitcher scored upon was Chad Durbin. . . . Freddy Galvis made his first-ever appearance at third base in the later innings. "He's going to play there more," Manuel said.
Contact Matt Gelb at email@example.com. Follow @magelb on Twitter.