CLEARWATER, Fla. – A stomach bug has swept through Phillies camp. On Sunday, it prevented Jonathan Papelbon from pitching and knocked Roy Halladay from the mound after one inning.
And so Halladay’s curious spring continues.
On Tuesday, the 35-year-old righthander complained of feeling lethargic after being battered and bruised by the Detroit Tigers.
Sunday, he slipped out of the Phillies’ dugout and into the clubhouse after throwing just 25 pitches against the Baltimore Orioles.
The first thought that raced through observers’ minds as Halladay left the field was that he was injured. His fastball has lacked zip for several starts now and there was the whole lethargy issue last week. All of this comes after Halladay spent seven weeks on the disabled list during a disappointing 2012 season. Halladay dealt with a sore back and a stiff shoulder last spring, problems he and Phillies officials denied at the time.
This year, it’s only natural to wonder if there’s more to Halladay’s curious spring than delivery issues and a bad stomach. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has been pressed on Halladay’s condition and says the pitcher is healthy. And he says he means it this year.
Still, it was reasonable to ask whether there was more to Halladay’s exit Sunday?
Charlie Manuel said no.
“He was sick,” Manuel said. “He threw up after he came out after the first inning. He was sick before the game, but he’s hardheaded. He wanted to pitch. He threw up and we took him out of the game.”
Catcher Erik Kratz confirmed all this.
“I’ve seen sick and that was sick,” he said.
Kratz caught all 25 of Halladay’s pitches. He also caught Halladay on Tuesday when the Tigers lit him up for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings. Halladay allowed two homers in that game, walked four, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. A true read on Halladay probably can’t be made until he’s over this stomach bug. In the meantime, Kratz said he saw progress Sunday.
“He was executing his pitches,” Kratz said. “His cutter was cutting. His sinker was sinking and he was throwing them on the corners. For him, that’s huge. Last time out, he wasn’t doing that. His cutter wasn’t cutting and he wasn’t locating his pitches where he wanted to.
“I don’t have any idea what his velocity was and that’s neither here nor there because when he’s on he’s locating his pitches and he was doing that. We got everything in. He threw all his pitches in the first inning and he battled through the sickness.”
Halladay allowed a hit and a walk. He struck out one, got a fly ball out and a ground out in a scoreless inning.
According to one scout in attendance, Halladay was 85-88 mph on the radar gun. The scout sensed that Halladay was laboring, but that might have been because he was ill. The pitcher did have a noticeably gaunt appearance.
Though it was a small sample size, pitching coach Rich Dubee sensed progress from Halladay.
“I thought he was better,” Dubee said. “I haven’t looked at the velocities, but he threw some cutters that had some action to them and he was doing it on no legs, really. I thought he was fine.”
Over the last few weeks of spring training, Halladay has talked about finding the right tempo in his delivery and getting a handle on his cutter. The big question now becomes: Does he have enough time left in camp to get his work done and be ready to make a start during the first week of April?
Manuel and Dubee both believe that will not be a problem, and it shouldn’t be. Halladay could actually make three more starts if he needed to.
Halladay’s turn in the rotation comes up again Saturday. Dubee said he expects Halladay to make the start.
The Phillies won it, 5-3. Freddy Galvis had a two-run homer in the fifth. Jeremy Horst pitched two scoreless innings and struck out two to help his chances of making the club. Phillippe Aumont walked the first two batters he faced, but came back with a pair of strikeouts en route to a scoreless inning.
Chase Utley went 1 for 4 with a hard-hit single. Utley is hitting just .200 on the spring. He took extra batting practice for 35 minutes after the game.
The crowd of 11,100 was the largest ever at Bright House Field.
The Phillies visit the Braves on Monday. Rodrigo Lopez will start and Aaron Cook will also work in the game. Lopez and Cook, both non-roster invitees, could be candidates to make the club if Halladay is not ready to start the season.