Halladay lacks command in rehab start

Roy Halladay struck out four and walked three. Just52 of his 90 pitches were strikes.
Roy Halladay struck out four and walked three. Just52 of his 90 pitches were strikes. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 22, 2013

LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Chace Numata rose from his crouch and approached the mound at FirstEnergy Park. There is little a 21-year-old catcher can say to one of the best pitchers of this generation, yet Numata tried.

He patted Roy Halladay on the lower back. Halladay threw eight straight balls in the fourth inning of a dull rehab start with single-A Lakewood. He resembled the drained pitcher seen earlier in 2013, before a surgeon cut into his right shoulder. That was three months ago.

Halladay could not command his arsenal. He lacked control and routinely fell behind batters. His fastball averaged 87 m.p.h., according to one scout's radar gun. It did not top 89 m.p.h.

"It's going to increase," Halladay said. "If it didn't, I think I can pitch with the velocity I'm at right now and be effective. I'm definitely a lot more effective than I was before the surgery. Before, I didn't have the location or the movement. I was lacking a lot of things."

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. believed Halladay could require just two minor-league outings before his triumphant return to the majors for a month of evaluation in meaningless baseball. His six innings and 90 pitches Tuesday in the South Atlantic League were far from convincing, although Halladay said Amaro's original plan suited him just fine.

"If he asked me," Halladay said, "I would say, 'Yeah, I definitely want to [pitch in the majors].' But they don't ask the players."

Actually, the Phillies rely on Halladay's input with these decisions. Amaro attended Tuesday's game and departed without speaking to reporters. A Sunday opening in the Phillies rotation could instead be awarded to Jonathan Pettibone, who also pitched in a rehab start Tuesday.

Halladay allowed two runs (one earned) in his six innings. Hagerstown, a Washington affiliate, rapped seven hits and drew three walks. The 36-year-old righthander struck out four.

His minor-league tour could linger. Halladay was assigned No. 44 and a corner locker Tuesday. Before throwing, he walked briskly through the home clubhouse with headphones in his ears as temporary twentysomething teammates cleared a path.

Screams came from one corner of the room. It was second baseman Alejandro Villalobos' 22d birthday, and a bunch of Lakewood's Latino players put a candle in a jar of mayonnaise to celebrate.

When Halladay stepped onto the field at 7:05 p.m., he fist-bumped a furry, yellow creature named Buster. Hagerstown scored on a single and hard-hit double in the second inning. Just 52 of his 90 pitches were strikes.

"I feel like Jamie Moyer did it and he was throwing 82," Halladay said. "I definitely feel like I can do it. That's their call."

If and when Halladay returns, it will be under a new manager. He believes Ryne Sandberg will force punctuality and extra work on the Phillies, something he said was lacking under Charlie Manuel.

"Obviously I love him," Halladay said of Manuel. "He was great. From what I've seen, Ryne came in and made some changes and addressed some issues that I think were being overlooked. As much as I miss Charlie, Ryne will do a good job. He's going to bring back a little more of the Philly baseball style than we've had the last couple of years. We haven't had that whole team effort, that whole team hustle."


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.


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