Halladay adds fire to Phillies-Nationals rivalry

Halladay adds fire to Phillies-Nationals rivalry

March 6, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Spring Training TV Schedule

Mar. 7, Twins at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 12, Tigers at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 14, Pirates at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 17, Orioles at Phillies, 1 p.m., CSN

Mar. 19, Yankees at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 22, Braves at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 26, Rays at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 28, Blue Jays at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 29, Blue Jays at Phillies, 7 p.m., TCN

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The rivalry between the Phillies and Washington Nationals keeps getting hotter.

Roy Halladay tossed another log on the fire Wednesday when he threw a pitch behind the back of Nationals outfielder Tyler Moore. Halladay, pitching on an unusually chilly and blustery Florida day, blamed the wayward pitch on a bad grip. Well, sort of. It’s more plausible that he was making a statement after Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg plunked Chase Utley in the right leg with a fastball the previous inning.

“It slipped,” Halladay said of the pitch to Moore.

He paused.

“A little bit.”

Halladay went on to say that Phillies pitchers need to watch the backs of the team’s hitters. This probably was a case of that.

“I think we do need to protect our guys to an extent,” he said. “I’m not saying that’s what happened – it slipped – but I think that’s important. We’ve had a lot of guys hit over the years and I think as a staff we need to do a good job protecting those guys.”

Halladay said he wasn’t sure whether he subscribed to the notion of protecting his hitters in spring training, but added that if he had hit Moore, “it wouldn’t have been the worst thing after they (hit) one of our good guys.”

Strasburg said he was not trying to hit Utley.

“I don’t have any reason to throw at him,” the hard-throwing righthander said. “Obviously you can tell the conditions were not great.”

Utley, who has led the NL in hit by a pitch three times, was unhurt by Strasburg’s pitch.

Moore seemed outwardly unaffected by Halladay’s pitch, but Washington manager Davey Johnson indicated otherwise. Johnson said he asked Moore if there was a history between him and Halladay and Moore responded: “There is now.”

After avoiding the pitch behind his back, Moore doubled for one of two hits Halladay allowed in four shutout innings of a 6-3 Phillies win.

There is getting to be some history between the Nationals and Phillies.

Last May, Cole Hamels received a suspension after “welcoming” Nationals phenom Bryce Harper to the majors with a fastball in the ribs.

On the final day of the season, after Washington had unseated the Phillies as NL East champs, Jimmy Rollins scoffed at the Nats’ 98-win accomplishment, saying they would have been a second-place team if the Phillies hadn't been ravaged by injuries.

Rollins did not back off his words earlier this spring, prompting Nationals rightfielder Jayson Werth to tell the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Bob Brookover, “If we had been healthy we might have won 120.”

Will Wednesday’s events cause a stir when the two teams meet for the first time this season on May 24?

We’ll see.

“We’re definitely close rivals,” Moore said. “They’ve got a good team and we do, too. It’s definitely going to be a fun season playing so many times.”