Halladay Labors In Minors
It didn’t look like it, but he said he will be ready to pitch and pitch effectively April 3 in Atlanta.
He threw 82 pitches, consistently hitting 87-89 mph on the radar gun. He hit 90 mph once in the first inning. If you were looking for positive results, they weren’t there. Halladay retired just seven of the 18 batters he faced. He allowed seven hits and two walks. He hit a batter while another batter reached base on a sacrifice bunt and error. He got just three swings and misses as he had trouble putting away hitters with two strikes. He officially allowed just three runs, although he had his first inning cut short after throwing 27 pitches, leaving the bases loaded with two outs in the process.
Here is some of what Halladay said afterward:
You felt fatigued two starts ago. You were sick in your last start. How did you feel physically?
I felt good. I was trying to talk him into letting me throw a few more. Arm-wise I felt really good. I think more than anything it took a toll on consistency, really in my lower half. My arm slot felt good. I felt like my landing spot was varying a little bit from time to time, but other than that I felt good. I felt like my arm was consistently in the same spot. We tried to throw a lot of sinkers and a lot of cutters today, we threw some better cutters. We tried a couple of different things with the cutters and I felt like toward the end we really narrowed down what I want to do with it. But I felt strong. I was surprised. I thought I was going to be a little wobbly leg-wise and stuff. But I felt good. I felt like I could have easily threw a 100-plus pitches. So form that standpoint, I’m pretty happy. Arm felt great, no soreness, I don’t think I’m going to feel sore tomorrow. And I felt like my stamina was there. Just working on the consistency on my lower half in the next bullpen and go from there. But I was glad that, you know, it didn’t set me back like I thought it was going to as far as physically. I felt strong and felt like the stamina was there.
You have one start after this then the April 3 start in Atlanta. Do you feel you’ll be ready?
Yeah, I think so. Really the only thing I feel like we’re trying to narrow down is the cutter. We tried to stay away from curve balls and change ups today, we threw a few, but really tried to stay away from that and throw as many cutters and sinkers as possible. I thought the sinkers were good. The cutter, like I said, we talked about doing a couple of different things and trying a couple different things, and I felt like toward the end, I felt like at least I felt a grip that was more comfortable and a release point that was more comfortable. So, it’s nice to have that to work off of. And I think going into the last start will be more like a regular start, where you’re trying to mix pitches like you normally would during a game. I think being able to figure out that cutter grip today, I can work on that in my bullpen more, and then my next time out, I feel like we can go out and pitch like I would pitch during a game. Like I said, we were talking about 70-75 pitches, but I felt great at 81 and felt like I could have gone more. I’m hoping maybe we can extend that last one, maybe get 95 or a little more pitches. I think, really, my arm felt a lot better today than before I was sick. I don’t know if that’s from a shortened start and some time off, but my arm felt like it was a lot easier to get in same spot consistently.
Do you think you could use one more spring training start to get ready and maybe get pushed back a day or two in the rotation? Or is it full speed ahead?
“No. I feel like I’m ready. I feel like physically, I’m ready. It’s just a matter of getting the pitches and getting out and … you know, for me, a lot of it changes when you start going through scouting reports. And in spring training, you never do that. We try and set up hitters a little bit. It’s really hard to do down here. So you’re working on, you know, you go in and say, hey, we’re going to throw a lot more fastballs, a lot more sinkers, a lot more cutters. But I think the next time we’re going to pitch more like I would pitch during the season. And then the next time, when you get in the games, you’ve got scouting reports, and that changes everything a great deal. And I believe that is one of the biggest reasons for my success, is being able to look at lineups and find out where I can and can’t go, what I can and can’t do. So to me, that’s a huge difference. Once we’re going to start doing that, it makes a big difference. But I feel good physically. If I would have gone out there today and felt lethargic, tired, really felt like I was laboring, I would have felt a little bit concerned. But I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was laboring at all. So that was good.
Do you think there’s more there with your fastball?
“Yeah, I think there’s more there. I really do. I kept telling Dubes, it was hard to step on it out there. You’ve got a mushy mound. It was hard to kind of use your legs to drive the ball, because if you did, you’re kind of sliding around a little bit. So I feel like there’s more in there. I felt like I didn’t want to go out there and overdo it. But I do feel like there’s an extra click or two. And I feel like I can repeat it easier. So that was the great thing about today. I felt like it wasn’t a lot of effort, where last year it was everything I had and it’s 87-88. And it’s everything I had. And now I feel like I can repeat it nice and fluid. And it’s coming out of there easy. And I felt like if I needed to add to it, I could.”
Can you if you’re in the 88-89 range?
Yeah, really, that’s probably something I’ll have to do more. I’m going to have to pitch that way. Add. Subtract. The older you get, unfortunately, you don’t always have the ability to go harder, harder, harder. That’s something you have to adjust to. Change your spots, change your location. I feel comfortable I can pitch in that area. If I need a click or two, I have it. When you get older, you’re not going to throw 95, 96 the whole game.
Do results in a game like this matter?
I think, for me, my goals today going in was to feel good, be strong all the way through, to feel like my arm slot was repeating, and I felt like that was there. The one thing I would like more consistent is my landing spot. I felt like that at times was a little bit erratic. But, I think going in with the plan that we had, trying to go as hard as we could, as much as we could against a minor league team probably isn’t the best plan. But that’s kind of what we needed to do. It’s gonna be something that’s gonna be important for me during the season — to be able to go hard and soft counts. It’s something we had to work on and if I’m gonna go pitch and try to win, I’m gonna throw as much soft as I can. That wasn’t the goal today.
To not throw as hard as you once did, is that tough on you mentally?
No. To me, it’s a competition. It’s not a boxing match, it’s not a strength vs. strength. It’s a chess match. It’s competition of the mind and execution and being smarter and being more prepared. To me, that’s what I’ve enjoyed. That’s what I’ve liked about baseball. You look at a Jamie Moyer. He could compete with the best of them. He would’ve gotten knocked out in the first round if he was a boxer. It’s just a different mentality. It’s not about the strength and throwing harder and overpowering guys. It’s about outsmarting and being more prepared and being more consistent. That to me is a challenge.