For Roy Halladay, it's a good start

For Roy Halladay, it's a good start

February 24, 2013, 4:30 pm
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Spring Training TV Schedule

Feb. 26, Yankees at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Feb. 28, Braves at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

Mar. 3, Blue Jays at Phillies, 1 p.m., CSN

Mar. 5, World Baseball Classic, 1 p.m., CSN

Mar. 6, Nationals at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN

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

LAKELAND, Fla. – A dozen Phillies officials showed up at Joker Marchand Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Executives, scouts, club president David Montgomery, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. They all made the drive east on I-4, past Dinosaur World and into central Florida.

The attraction? Roy Halladay’s first start of the spring.

It’s probably not an overstatement to say Halladay, coming off a sub-par season in 2012, was making one of the most anxiously awaited spring-training starts in club history. The guy is pretty important to this team’s chances, you know. After a long winter of retooling his body, Halladay, and all those Phillies big cheeses, were curious to see how things would go.

Halladay got good marks for his two innings of work against the Detroit Tigers.

“He was filthy,” said Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, who struck out on a 1-2 changeup in the first inning. “I hadn’t faced him in a couple of years. He looked good. His fastball was sneaky. It had that late life. It was sinking and cutting. If he gets better from here, it’s scary.”

A rival scout who watched Halladay’s 22-pitch effort (16 strikes) rated the pitcher’s showing as “very good.” Yes, it was a bland comment, but if the scout had been unimpressed he would have let it be known.

Halladay missed his spot with a cutter and allowed a long home run to Victor Martinez in the second inning. It was the only hit he gave up. He struck out two, both on changeups, and walked none.

Halladay struggled with back and shoulder issues last season, spent seven weeks on the disabled list and finished with a 4.49 ERA, his highest in over a decade. Shoulder tightness took the life out of his fastball and robbed some of the movement from his sinker and cutter.

After the season, Halladay, a fierce offseason worker, re-evaluated his winter conditioning program. He concentrated on building strength in his core because he wanted to take pressure off his shoulder.

Halladay’s fastball registered 88-91 miles per hour Sunday. Afterward the pitcher said he wasn’t concerned with velocity, only how his body responded to game action.

“I felt good and I’m happy with where things are,” Halladay said.

He added that his shoulder would often tighten up between innings last year. He felt none of that tightness going from the bullpen to the game and in between the first and second inning Sunday.

The pitcher believes his offseason work helped.

“It feels a lot free and easier right now than it did at the end of last season,” Halladay said. “I feel like arm-wise it’s less effort.

“Last year there were times I really felt like I had to throw as hard as I could to make up for the lower half. Now, in the bullpens I’ve thrown and in the game today, I felt like my arm is in a better spot to where I didn’t feel I had to throw hard. I felt like it was just getting my arm in the right spot and being smooth with it. I don’t feel like I have to throw every ball as hard as I can. I feel like it’s coming out easier to where I have that smooth feeling and I don’t have to be herky-jerky with it.”

Halladay, who turns 36 in May, considered the outing a “baby step” toward getting ready for the season.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “I feel like things are translating the way I want them to.

“I’m just trying to get my arm back to where it was. The stuff I’m doing is allowing my lower half to be involved where last year it wasn’t at all. I was all upper body. I’m trying to get back where I’m using my lower half more effectively and taking stress off my arm.”

Halladay’s turn in the rotation comes up again Friday.

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