Roy Halladay encouraged, but not out of the woods

Roy Halladay encouraged, but not out of the woods

May 8, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Roy Halladay is 2-4 with an 8.65 ERA this season. (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO – Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay is encouraged by the results of his shoulder examination. The veteran right-hander said Wednesday that he expects to have arthroscopic surgery next week and hopes to return to pitch for the Phils late this season.

“I feel like I have something to grasp onto, something to move forward with,” Halladay said during a 20-minute news conference in the visiting dugout at AT&T Park on Wednesday. “I don’t feel as lost as before. I feel like there’s some answers there, some things that we see that can be done and I’m optimistic that we’ll get it fixed and I’ll be able to come back and pitch.”

Halladay was examined by shoulder specialist Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Monday. An MRI showed a bone spur, a partial tear in the rotator cuff and some fraying in the labrum. The damage to the rotator cuff actually showed up in an MRI after Halladay went on the disabled list a year ago. It had worsened over the past year, he said.

Halladay said all the issues would be addressed surgically.

“The doctor seemed pretty optimistic that if what they saw is correct, I could come back and be a lot more effective and have a chance to pitch this year,” Halladay said. “He said he thought they could turn back the clock two or three years for me. I thought it was very good news. Obviously I don’t want to miss time, but I think as far as scenarios go I feel like it’s a lot better than some of the things I anticipated.

“The fact that it’s a scope and cleanup is a lot better than going in and having to reattach [the rotator cuff] and have a full surgery. This is a lot better option, a lot quicker, and at my age a lot better for me.”

Halladay turns 36 next week. He has not decided who will do the surgery or exactly when it will be. He was said to be impressed with ElAttrache, who is affiliated with the highly regarded Kerlan-Jobe clinic in Los Angeles.

While Halladay was optimistic about making a recovery, he was not naïve to the fact that the diagnosis could change once doctors open his shoulder and get a better look at the damage inside.

“I guess there could be [more damage than the diagnostics revealed],” Halladay said. “But I thought it was very clear on the X-ray. At no point in our conversation did [ElAttrache] say, ‘But, it could be a lot worse.’ He didn’t say that. You can’t ever rule that out, but it was never in our conversation. He never said that. He felt like it was something that we could take care of.”

If the damage is such that Halladay can’t return as hoped ...

“Nobody wants to go out on a bad note,” he said. “If you had a choice, you want to go out strong. Ideally you want to go out as a World Champion. But some of those things aren’t in your control. I have no regrets at any point in my career and if things don’t work out and they do end on a sour note I’m not going to look at it that way.

“But I really don’t feel that’s going to be the case. I really feel I have a shot to come back and help our team.”

It’s impossible to put a timetable on Halladay’s return until doctors look inside his shoulder and see the damage, but the pitcher was heartened to hear ElAttrache say some pitchers have come back from this procedure in three months. That would put the Phillies into the final six weeks of the season.

Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will get the first shot to fill Halladay’s rotation spot Friday night in Arizona. Down the road, Adam Morgan could get a shot. Meanwhile, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. continues to look outside the organization for veterans pitching in the minors who have escape clauses in their contracts. Veterans Chris Young and Chien-Ming Wang are two such pitchers. Aaron Cook, who was in Phillies’ camp this spring, is another. The rotation will receive a boost in about a month when John Lannan returns from the disabled list.

Amaro’s reaction to the news on Halladay was measured.

“I’m sad that I don’t have him available to pitch,” he said. “But I guess of the scenarios it could have been, it’s a pretty good one. We remain optimistic that he can come back and pitch at some point this year. If that’s the case and he can help us, that would be great. I don’t have a crystal ball. I haven’t looked inside his shoulder. So once they do and do what they propose to do, then we’ll know more about his timeline and the possibility of coming back effectively.”

Halladay is the final year of his contract. He makes $20 million this season. If he can recover well, he would like to pitch next season. He was asked if he’d take a cut-rate deal to remain with the Phillies in 2014.

“I really want to get through this, come back and see how strong I can be and see how effective I can be, and see if I can help us,” he said. “I’m not going to make any decisions right now about down the road. I’m going to focus on the here and now and this process. I’ve always told you guys I love Philadelphia, love playing here. It’s a great place to be. But there’s a lot to be determined. I want to be effective and I want to be a part of the team. I don’t want to be a hindrance.”