Halladay's control off in second rehab start

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Halladay's control off in second rehab start

LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- Roy Halladay knows that the velocity -- or lack thereof  -- on his pitches is an issue. So he addressed it head-on after pitching six innings in a minor-league game Tuesday night.
 
“I think the velocity will increase, but if it didn’t I think I could pitch at the velocity I’m at right now,” he said. “I feel like things are coming along well. I think I can rely on my curveball and splitter, and my cutter is coming around. I feel like Jamie Moyer did it and he was throwing 82, so I definitely feel like I can do it.”
 
Just over three months removed from right shoulder surgery, Halladay made his second minor-league rehab start Tuesday night. He allowed seven hits and two runs, one of which was unearned, in the Lakewood BlueClaws’ 3-2 win over Hagerstown. Halladay walked three and struck out four. His fastball touched 89 mph in the first inning but averaged 87 for the six innings, according to radar guns behind home plate.
 
Halladay’s velocity has been a hot-button issue since the spring of 2012, when he first began to experience shoulder and back problems. In what seemed like an effort to downplay Halladay’s velocity, no radar gun readings were shown on the scoreboard at FirstEnergy Park. Gun readings are usually shown at the ballpark. An official from the Lakewood club said he had no idea why the readings were not shown.
 
Halladay, 36, has maintained contact with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed surgery on the pitcher on May 15. ElAttrache tells Halladay that the velocity will come.
 
“He said velocity is the last thing you need to worry about,” Halladay said. “That will be there as I build.”
 
Halladay believes he made strides with his cutter Tuesday night, but he does not appear to be a pitcher that is ready for major-league competition. He left the game with the score tied, 2-2, but could have trailed if rightfielder Jiandido Tromp hadn’t made a nice running catch in the gap, saving what might have been a two-run triple in the sixth.
 
Halladay’s command was spotty. He threw 90 pitches in six innings, 52 of which were strikes. At one point in the fourth inning, he threw eight straight balls.
 
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was in attendance but did not stop to speak with reporters. This was Halladay’s second rehab start -- he pitched six innings in a Gulf Coast League game last week -- and Amaro had previously said there was a chance Halladay could return to the Phillies’ rotation after two rehab starts. It’s difficult to imagine that happening, however. Halladay didn’t exactly dominate hitters at one of the lowest rungs of pro ball Tuesday night.
 
Asked if he was ready to return to the majors, Halladay said, “That’s out of my control. Obviously I want to pitch in five days, but where -- that’s not my call.”
 
However, Halladay was pleased with his progress and the way he felt physically.
 
“I’m happy where things are at being three months out from surgery,” he said. “Things are getting consistently better.”
 
Halladay will be a free agent at season’s end. Phillies officials want to get a look at him in big-league competition in September to gauge whether they want to re-sign him. Other clubs will also take a peek at Halladay in September.
 
The pitcher isn’t concerned about the future. He just wants to complete his comeback from shoulder surgery.
 
“I’m not worried about that. I’m really not,” Halladay said. “I’ve played a long time. I’m not playing for money. I’m not playing for anything else. If I have a situation where I have a chance to win, I might pay them.
 
“I don’t have to play, I want to play.”

Hits King Pete Rose on Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot

Hits King Pete Rose on Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies have released their Wall of Fame ballot for 2017 and Pete Rose is on it for the first time.

Baseball’s all-time hits king joins Steve Bedrosian, Larry Christensen, Jim Fregosi, Gene Garber, Placido Polanco, Ron Reed, Scott Rolen, Manny Trillo and Rick Wise on the ballot.

The Phillies had to receive permission from commissioner Rob Manfred to include Rose on the ballot. Rose was placed on baseball’s permanently ineligible list in 1989 after he admitted to wagering on baseball during his time as manager of the Cincinnati Reds. The ban precludes him from appearing on the ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Rose is still on the ineligible list, but Manfred has shown some leniency in recent years and Rose has been able to participate in some ceremonies. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame last summer. 

Rose was one of the stars on the Reds’ Big Red Machine, a club that won back-to-back World Series in 1975 and 1976. He came to the Phillies as a free agent before the 1979 season. He spent five years with the Phils and his leadership was considered key in getting a talented team over the top on its way to winning the 1980 World Series. 

The Phillies’ Wall of Fame ceremony will take place Aug. 12 at Citizens Bank Park. 

Fans have a voice in the voting, which is has begun on the team’s website -- www.Phillies.com. Fans can select their top three choices and the five finalists will serve as the official ballot for a special Wall of Fame selection committee.

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0: Prospects put on a show

Phillies 6, University of Tampa 0: Prospects put on a show

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies offered up a sneak peek of their Triple A roster on Thursday and, frankly, it was kind of exciting.

Now, we won't go overboard here. That’s never a wise thing to do when a bunch of solid major-league prospects beat up on a college team in a spring training game. Lessons have been learned over the years. Remember that time Domonic Brown electrified camp when he turned around a 96-mph fastball from Justin Verlander and hammered it like a missile over the right-field wall?

Enough said.

But if things like home run power and bat speed and rocket throwing arms and good infield work light up your radar gun then this was a fun day and an entertaining peek at what's going to be playing 60 miles north of Philadelphia at Lehigh Valley in a few weeks.

Manager Pete Mackanin used a lineup filled with prospects for the team’s annual good-will exhibition game against the University of Tampa.

The Phillies won the game, 6-0. They out-hit UT, 12-2, in the seven-inning game.

“This gave us home-field advantage for next year when we play these guys,” Mackanin quipped afterward.

The skipper was in a good mood and justifiably so.

The kids put on a good show.

“I know it’s a college team, but we looked good all around,” Mackanin said. “We swung the bats well. We played well defensively.”

The Phillies' farm system has improved over the last couple of seasons. There are players at the upper levels -- and even more at the lower levels -- with game-breaking tools. Those tools were displayed in this game.

• Centerfielder Roman Quinn singled and scorched a line-drive home run over the right-field wall. Quinn is working on shortening his swing this spring. The home run came on a quick swing and jumped off his bat.

• Scott Kingery, the 22-year-old second baseman picked by the Phillies in the second round of the 2015 draft, made three nice plays in the field, one to his right, one to his left and one on a double-play ball. He actually projects to open at Double A, but could be a quick mover. Jesmuel Valentin projects to play at Triple A. He's been bothered by a sore shoulder.

• Outfielder Nick Williams was hitless but drove the ball well.

• Dylan Cozens, the lefty-hitting behemoth who swatted 40 homers, the most in all of minor-league ball, for Double A Reading last season clubbed a long home run over the batter’s eye in center field.

“Ryan Howard is the only guy I’ve ever seen do that,” one longtime security guard at Spectrum Field said.

“The ball makes a different sound coming off his bat,” Mackanin observed.

• Top prospect J.P. Crawford booted a ball in the first inning, but that happens. He came across the second base bag like a blur when he teamed with Kingery in turning a double play.

• Andrew Pullin showed his sweet lefty stroke with a scorching base hit to right field. It was one of those line drives that nose-dived into the ground because it had so much hard top-spin on it. Pullin has a short, Jim Eisenreich type of swing, and it will carry him to the big leagues someday, maybe even this year as he would be an intriguing bat to have coming off the bench.

• And then there was catcher Jorge Alfaro. Power -- with his throwing arm and his bat -- is his big tool. He showed it gunning down a would-be base stealer with a laser-beam throw to second and later by lining a pitch off the top of the wall in right-center. Alfaro seemed to simply flick his wrists and drive the ball through a stuff wind. With no wind, it was a homer.

Again, all of this came against a college team. All of these prospects still have miles to go in their development and the rigors of the unforgiving baseball schedule, not to mention pitching that improves with every step, has a way of thinning the field.

But these prospects -- and their tools -- impressed the field boss.

“If they go to Triple A and pound the ball like they did today -- that’s what we’re hoping for,” Mackanin said. “It was a good day to give those guys some confidence. We want to see what they can do and what they can’t do. It was against a college team, but you can get a good glimpse of the future, see what they’re capable of doing. I’m going to try to see the young guys as much as I can early in the spring.

“It’s really encouraging to see these guys. Every one of them has very good potential, more than I’ve seen since I’ve been here.

“I was talking to Charlie Manuel (who sees the entire system in his front office role) before the game and he said up and down the system we have a lot of good players. Perhaps not necessarily blue-chip prospects but enough where you know some of them are going to make their way to the top and this is a good start with what we’re looking at right now.”