Halladay enjoying role as Phils guest instructor

Roy Halladay is enjoying his time as a coach, but he's committed to retirement.
Roy Halladay is enjoying his time as a coach, but he's committed to retirement. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: February 21, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - As the sterling major-league career of Roy Halladay concluded in September, Ethan Martin's entered its nascent stages. The 24-year-old righthander bounced between the rotation and bullpen, pitched to a 6.08 ERA on a moribund team, and endured difficult baseball lessons.

One of his first realizations was to steer clear of Halladay. Do not engage Halladay unless he initiates it. Halladay was not rude; he just channeled all of his energy toward his next start.

Halladay's failing right shoulder and back robbed him of another season. He retired in December and arrived at Phillies camp this spring as a guest instructor. As Martin threw a bullpen session during the first workout for pitchers and catchers last week, Halladay interrupted him with a suggestion.

The rules changed.

"Sit there," Martin said of his time with the two-time Cy Young Award winner. "Open your ears. Keep your mouth shut and just listen."

Halladay, 36, has embraced the retired life. His mythical predawn workout routines are history. His heavy lifting now consists of "sit ups off the couch."

He is committed to retirement.

"Absolutely," Halladay said. "For me, it was a long decision. It wasn't something that happened overnight. It was the right decision for me. I felt it was the best option and the only option. I still feel good about it.

"I've enjoyed doing this part of it right now," he added. "It's been a good change."

Halladay is determined to stay in the game. He wants to continue coaching, and it could grow into a larger role after spending one full year with his family. Halladay, once demoted from the majors to single A before assuming his all-star form, carries instant credibility.

"I enjoy talking pitching and talking baseball," Halladay said. "And I don't have all the answers. I don't claim to, but I'm more than happy to share my beliefs."

He provides an invaluable spring resource for pitchers young and old. He is tutoring new pitching coach Bob McClure on the idiosyncrasies of an entire pitching staff.

"Doc is such a levelheaded person, so he's easy to talk to about things like that," McClure said. "If he's critical, it's in a helping way and not a bashing way. It's more like he's being critical to help the guy. It's not, 'He can't do this.' It's, 'He's having trouble doing this, and this is how he can do it.' It's been outstanding."

Said manager Ryne Sandberg: "This is something he is very good at. Sometimes, it is tough as a player to coach and talk to teammates. What I've seen is he's full of knowledge. He's all in. He is a total asset to the meetings, as far as the pitching staff goes."

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. called Halladay after Christmas to ask whether he would consider coaching this spring. Amaro told him the role was flexible - he could skip days for family activities.

"It's different, but it's really not as strange as you would think," Halladay said. "I had made the decision, and I was ready for this part of my life, so it was really something that I kind of anticipated.

"I haven't had these, 'I have to get out there and do it' type of things. I've enjoyed being here. I love being here."

Carlos Ruiz, one of Halladay's closest former teammates, said the pitcher's retirement caused him to contemplate his own baseball mortality.

"Sometimes before I go to sleep, I think what will happen when I'm ready to retire," Ruiz said.

The catcher sees Halladay as a natural as a teacher.

"It surprised me, because of his personality," Ruiz said. "He was quiet."

Martin, an unestablished pitcher fighting for a job, has witnessed both sides of Halladay. He is grateful for that.

"He's trying to help other people and spill his knowledge," Martin said. "He's awesome."


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb

inquirer.com/phillieszone

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