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The Official 2013 Phillies Thread

<span style="font-weight: bold">Roy Halladay news and it don't look good...</span>


Matt Gelb, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

POSTED: Saturday, March 23, 2013, 3:10 PM

CLEARWATER, Fla. ó The new reality for Roy Halladay started well before 10:59 a.m. Saturday when he launched an 89 m.p.h. fastball on a back field at the Carpenter Complex. Each time Halladay threw, pitching prospect Jonathan Pettibone clicked the radar-gun trigger. He tilted it so Rich Dubee could see the two digits for logging purposes.

This happened 81 times Saturday while Blue Jays minor leaguers smashed Halladay's sinkers and cutters. The first number of the velocity reading was a nine only once.

Afterward, Halladay spoke of "evolving with his body" and attacking hitters with a different approach. In this new reality, Halladay must reinvent himself, and one of the greatest pitchers of his generation is no longer hiding from it.

"It's not a boxing match," Halladay said. "It's not strength vs. strength. It's a chess match. It's competition of the mind and execution and being smarter and being more prepared."

Halladay said he felt strong. He wanted to pitch more. He said there was no soreness in his arm. He expects to make one more spring-training start and take the ball April 3 in Atlanta.

This was a long way from the perfect game, postseason no-hitter, and countless moments that made Halladay one of the most revered figures in all of baseball. He blamed the seven hits, two walks and one hit batter in four innings Saturday on a desire to throw more sinkers and cutters than usual. Those are the pitches he threw a combined 60 percent of the time in 2012, and they will decide his fate.

The Toronto farmhands were hardly fooled. They swung and missed a mere three times in 81 pitches. When they made contact, it was loud and solid. Halladay faced 18 batters and retired seven of them.

Halladay revealed he will heavily rely on off-speed pitches in 2013. To make that work, he must throw his sinker and cutter with efficiency. It was his focus Saturday.

"Going in with the plan that we had, trying to go hard as much as we could against a minor league team, probably isn't the best plan," Halladay said. "But that's kind of what we needed to do. It's going to be something that's going to be important for me during the season ó to be able to go hard in soft counts."

With the decreased velocity and altered mechanics, Halladay has struggled to unlock an effective cutter, his most frequently used pitch. He tinkered with the grip Saturday and said he found a solution later in the outing.

Whatever the case, Halladay must now outsmart the opposition. His pristine command is wavering. His fastball is slower. He talked of throwing hard stuff when hitters typically expect an off-speed pitch and vice versa.

Halladay thinks he can add a few clicks to his fastball velocity. He hovered between 86-89 m.p.h. according to one scout's gun. But pitching to that speed, Halladay said, is "probably something I'll have to do more."

This was no ordinary minor-league appearance. Eight Phillies officials including team president David Montgomery and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. watched above from a building. Twenty-one Phillies minor-league pitchers gathered behind the backstop. Halladay took the field to a smattering of applause from the small crowd.

Halladay had thrown a total of 25 pitches in the previous 10 days. A stomach virus robbed him of 10 pounds, strength, and a normal routine. On Sunday, he did not look comfortable, but Halladay later disputed that notion.

"I didn't feel like I was laboring at all," Halladay said. "So that was good."

During the regular season, Halladay immerses himself in notes, strike-zone charts and other scouting reports. The 35-year-old pitcher said he relishes the challenge of devising a new plan. Its implementation will be met with skepticism until the results arrive.

"The older you get," Halladay said, "unfortunately you don't always have the ability to go harder, harder, harder."

Itís funny until somebody gets hurt, then itís hilarious
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