NEW YORK – Roy Halladay still has many miles to go in his recovery from mid-May shoulder surgery, but he did take an important step toward rejoining the Phillies’ rotation when he threw from a mound for the first time since surgery on Sunday morning.
Citi Field was quiet and almost empty when Halladay started long-tossing in the outfield. He then moved into the bullpen where he threw 20 pitches – all straight – from the mound.
Drenched in sweat as he returned to the clubhouse after the workout, Halladay offered only a quick, “Good,” when asked how he felt. Halladay has been long-tossing for a couple of weeks and has continually said that he feels good. After recent workouts, pitching coach Rich Dubee has remarked that Halladay’s range of motion is much improved and that has led to a higher arm angle in his delivery. That was missing the last couple of seasons as Halladay dealt with shoulder issues.
Dubee liked what he saw of Halladay’s bullpen workout Sunday, but he stressed that the pitcher still has a long way to go. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. recently said he hopes Halladay can be back in the rotation “by September” if all continues to go well.
“This is just the next phase,” Dubee said. “He did fine. He’s right on schedule.”
The pitcher’s velocity was not measured.
“I’m not looking at velocity at all,” Dubee said. “I’m looking at his arm path and making sure he can get his arm up to where it needs to be. Ever since Day 1, it has been very encouraging because his range of motion has been phenomenal. His arm slot is closer to where it was in 2010. It’s probably a good eight to 12 inches higher.”
Dubee said Halladay would throw another bullpen in a few days, depending on how he feels. As for an overall timetable on the pitcher’s return to action, Dubee said: “He’ll be back when he’s ready to be back, not a day earlier. He’ll be back when he’s physically ready, stretched out and comfortable with his delivery and arm slot.”
Halladay will need something that resembles a spring training before he’s ready to return. He will build his pitch count and add in breaking balls in the bullpen, then pitch to hitters, then get innings in minor-league games. It will take some time, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel – provided there are no setbacks.
Halladay had surgery on May 15 to smooth a bone spur and fix a partial tear in his rotator cuff. Surgeon Neal El Attrache told Halladay that the surgery could allow the pitcher to turn the clock back a few years on his high-mileage shoulder. Halladay, 36, will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Phillies have said they’d like to re-sign him. The Phils hope to be in a pennant race when Halladay returns in September. Short of that, the team could use September as a time to evaluate the pitcher.