Roy Halladay felt soreness in his right shoulder following his April 24 start in Pittsburgh, but said nothing until yesterday after he had allowed a combined 17 runs in six innings (25.50 ERA) in his last two starts.
Some people thought Halladay should have told the Phillies immediately. Charlie Manuel feels differently.
“I’ve been around the game a long time,” Manuel said before tonight’s game at AT&T Park. “I never liked to tell anyone I couldn’t play. If you asked me if I could play, I would have never told you I couldn’t. You know? I don’t want to get into that. I played with a broken arm, I played with a whole lot of things. I got hit in the face and my lip was over my eye and I missed one day. I would never tell you I couldn’t play. So, yeah, I could understand that. He felt he could go out there and still pitch. He wasn’t thinking about not pitching bad or something like that; he wanted to try. Roy is an upstanding guy, a straight guy. Hey, there should be more guys like that. You say, ‘Well he’s hurt, he’s hurt.’ But evidently he didn’t feel that way, he felt like he could play. Nowadays guys, they get out of the game real easy. That means he has some integrity, that the game means something to him, that he wanted to see if he could help us. It wasn’t like he was trying to hurt us. Knowing him like I do, he thought he could pitch.”
I understand both sides to the argument, but here’s my take: Either you want players to try to play through pain or you don’t. That’s it. There is no gray area. You can’t say, “Well, because Halladay struggled he should have told them immediately after the Pittsburgh game and been placed on the DL.”
What if Halladay thought he could pitch through it (he did) and performed well? Fans would have called him a gamer. In fact, remember Game 5 of the 2010 NLCS? Halladay strained his groin early in the game. You could tell immediately something was wrong. Should he have pulled himself from the game, even though he thought he could pitch through it? He was hurt, after all. No, Halladay stayed in the game, gutted out a win and extended the series. Fans applauded Chase Utley for playing through a hip injury in 2008. Nobody said, “Well, Chase really shouldn’t have played if he wasn’t 100 percent. He could have hurt the team.”
In both cases the players felt they could compete, so they tried to compete. Twice they succeeded. Once they failed. But you can’t pick and choose when the player pulls himself from competition. They’re not wired that way. They’ll always try first. Always.
They recalled left-hander Joe Savery to temporarily take Halladay’s place on the 25-man roster. A replacement for Halladay’s spot in the rotation will be named before Friday’s game in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. Candidates include Triple-A left-hander Adam Morgan and right-hander Tyler Cloyd.
Halladay revealed yesterday, after allowing nine runs in 2 1/3 innings in a 14-2 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, that his shoulder has been bothering him.
“It started the morning after I pitched against Pittsburgh [on April 24],” Halladay said Sunday. “I woke up and didn’t really think anything of it. It was just kind of regular soreness. This kind of progressed over the last two weeks or so. It’s right shoulder discomfort.
“This is something new this spring. I felt good all spring. I felt good all year. I just got up after that start against Pittsburgh and had soreness in there and wasn’t able to get rid of it. That’s really all I have. We don’t have a lot of information on it. We did some tests, and obviously they aren’t completely conclusive as to what it is. There’s a couple different options, and I think the scans, the MRIs, the CTs and that kind of stuff will give us more information, and we’ll address it then. We’ll see how it plays out here in the next couple days.”
I have been asked what I expect from Roy Halladay‘s visit in Los Angeles with orthopedist Lewis Yocum.
My answer: I don’t know, but it is tough to be optimistic.
The best-case scenario is what exactly? A little inflammation, he stops throwing for a while and gradually makes his way back? I guess that would be considered good news, but Halladay has not been effective consistently since 2011. He had three good starts (1.71 ERA) before the last two, but he still fell behind most hitters and worked a lot of deep counts. So even when the results have been solid, he has not been the surgeon he had been in the past. I’m just not sure how much a break from throwing will help.
The worst-case scenario is a torn rotator cuff or something of that nature, and Halladay’s season and possibly career is over. In that case, the Phillies’ chances to make the postseason takes a significant hit, although I contend even with a healthy and effective Halladay this team’s chances have not looked good because of the anemic offense. The Phillies were 4-7 during Halladay’s solid three-start run. The offense averaged 2.7 runs per game in that stretch, but please continue to blame the pitching coach and pitching staff for this team’s problems.
Whether it be wear and tear from a long and productive career (this is a likely scenario for me, his shoulder is just shot) or much worse, Halladay’s struggles are sad to see. I would never claim to know him personally. I know him only from our interactions in the clubhouse. But he is a good guy and a ridiculously hard worker. The stories that have been written about him, the comments people have made about his work ethic and how much he is respected, they have not been exaggerated. He lives up to the hype. So it is tough to watch a guy that has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball struggle like this. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he will get good news. I’m just not sure what that could be.
So who replaces Halladay?
My bet is Triple-A left-hander Adam Morgan. I’ve been hearing how he’s not on the 40-man roster, but so what? Morgan (1-2, 3.89 ERA) has the best numbers of the Triple-A starters, although he has struggled in each of his last three starts. But he has performed better overall than Tyler Cloyd, Ethan Martin and B.J. Rosenberg (Cloyd has pitched better in his last two starts. He last pitched Friday.) None of those three have an ERA less than 5.11. I also don’t believe Double-A Reading left-hander Jesse Biddle is an option at this point.
There has been plenty of focus in the past 24 hours on the Phillies’ pitching staff (and pitching coach), but I maintain the biggest reason for this team’s losing is its struggling offense. They are averaging 3.7 runs per game, which is 11th in the National League and 23rd in baseball.
But a couple key bats have started to show a pulse, which could get the offense moving. Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard have homered in consecutive games. Brown is hitting .382 (13-for-34) with two doubles, three home runs and eight RBIs in his last nine games. Howard has four homers and 12 RBIs in his last nine. He also is hitting .348 (16-for-46) with five doubles, four home runs, 13 RBIs and a 1.090 OPS in his last 13. It goes without saying the offense stands a much better chance if these guys start producing on a consistent basis.
(Ah, for the days when fans complained the Phillies relied too much on home runs. They sure seem to like them now.)
The offense needs to continue to build this weekend against the Marlins. Yes, the Marlins are terrible, but the Phillies need some positive vibes before they fly to San Francisco on Sunday evening to open a seven-game road trip in San Francisco and Arizona. The Giants are 17-12, and tied for first in the National League West. The Diamondbacks are 15-14. Things won’t be easy out there. If the Phillies move to .500 with a sweep of the Marlins or split the remaining two games to head West 15-17, it would be another bad sign if they limped back from the trip 2-5 or worse. At some point this team, if it’s as good as it thinks it is, needs to go on a run. And that won’t happen if they aren’t hitting.
He said Roy Halladay‘s problems were a simple mechanical fix that Dubee simply could not find. He mentioned an encounter he had with Dubee in Spring Training, when Dubee yelled at him for trying to talk to his pitchers, although he claimed that did not make his criticism this morning personal. Williams, the former Phillies closer who currently is an analyst for MLB Network, also said he showed Kyle Kendrick his current change up grip, which has brought him great success. Kendrick denied that. It’s been well known Kendrick gives credit to former pitcher Justin Lehr, who learned the grip from Tim Hudson.
“He didn’t like the fact that I spoke with his pitchers at all about anything,” Williams told Angelo Cataldi. “It may be time for a new voice.”
Halladay answered back before tonight’s game at Citizens Bank Park.
“Coming from the mechanical wonder,” Halladay said. “Yeah, I strongly disagree. To come from a guy who’s not around, who’s not involved. He’s not involved in the conversations … honestly has no idea what’s going on. He really doesn’t. He has no idea what’s going on in the clubhouse, on the field between coaches and players. To make comments like that, it’s completely out of line. It really is. Rich Dubee, when I first came over, he taught me a change up. If I hadn’t had that coming over here I wouldn’t have had the success I’ve had over here. Especially dealing with the injuries I’ve dealt with, if I didn’t have that pitch, if I didn’t have him working with me, I really would have been in a lot of trouble. In my opinion, it’s a statement that I feel like he needs to make amends for. I really do. There’s very few pitching coaches that I respect more than Rich Dubee. Watching Kyle Kendrick, the stuff that he’s learned, the way he’s grown, is because of Rich Dubee and it’s because of his work ethic and the way he goes about things. It really does upset me. It upsets me that guys outside of our group of guys that don’t understand what’s going on here make comments like that. Hopefully, it’s something he’ll learn from. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but he couldn’t be further from the truth. And I don’t think it’s the first time he’s been a little off base.”
Halladay was asked about the other times Williams has been off base.
“I’ve heard him criticize a lot of guys for mechanics,” Halladay said. “For a guy who’s never been a pitching coach, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t go and look at any player in the Major Leagues and say, well, he should do it this way. I just don’t understand where that comes from. I really don’t. Former players, there were guys that had certain success doing it certain ways. There’s no one way to do things. To think that you know the one way to do it is a little bit arrogant. … What matters is your success and how guys get it done. It’s not mechanical. It’s a matter of confidence. There’s a lot of things that go into it. I really just feel he’s wrong on this one. I’m sure he’s not a bad guy. I’m sure he’s trying to do the best he can at his job, but I really feel like he was kind of off the mark on this one.”
Said Dubee: “That’s good. Maybe I hurt his feelings with the dust up, but I don’t know. Mitch has got a chance. He can apply to 30 teams (to be a pitching coach). You know? I’ve got no comment to that. Maybe he got upset because I spoke to him about getting involved in our pitching, where I don’t think he belongs. Maybe he’s upset at that. But I don’t think other people belong in our pitching. Again, like I said, he’s got a chance to submit a resume.”
He has evolved into a pretty good pitcher over the past few years. Kendrick is 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts this season and 22-19 with a 3.46 ERA in 77 appearances (46 starts) from 2011-13. Kendrick’s 3.46 ERA in that span ranks 25th out of 89 qualifying pitchers (minimum 300 innings) in baseball. That is better than Roy Halladay (3.48), Matt Garza (3.52), Zack Greinke (3.57) and a host of other pitchers making a heck a lot more than Kendrick’s $4.5 million salary this year. Kendrick’s 1.24 WHIP is 35th.
A reporter mentioned last night that Kendrick, who has a 1.54 ERA in his last five starts, has been a stopper recently, helping the Phillies win following a loss (or losses) in his previous three starts. Kendrick smiled awkwardly, like, “Uh, did you just call me a stopper?” This is a guy that fans have loved to mock and boo. I asked him about that in spring training. He said he wasn’t sure why he remained an object of scorn in Philadelphia. I offered the possibility that fans might not be able to forget the 4.96 ERA he carried from 2008-10, so anytime he pitches poorly it’s like, “There goes Kendrick again.”
“Maybe, but that’s tough if that’s the way it is,” he said. “I’m not that same pitcher anymore.”
Maybe a few more good months this year and they will notice.
“I’ve always kind of expected this out of me,” Kendrick said last night. “I know it hasn’t been there in the past like I’ve wanted, the fans have wanted it, my teammates, the coaches, the organization. But I expect this out of me. Hopefully now I can be consistent like that and every time out give us a chance to win the game. That’s the main thing as a starting pitcher. I’m feeling comfortable and confident I can do that every time out.”
Kendrick will have his bad starts, but he has become more of a sure thing. Charlie Manuel often said Kendrick pitched a “Kyle Kendrick type of game” when he allowed three or four runs in six innings. But these days a Kyle Kendrick game is more two or three runs in seven innings. (He is 10-5 with a 2.75 ERA in his last 19 starts.) The Phillies need that, especially with Halladay’s inconsistencies.
That lifelessness is pretty easily explainable, if you ask me.
They enter tonight’s game against the Marlins ranked 26th in baseball in scoring, averaging a measly 3.57 runs per game. It is impossible to look energetic or lively when nobody is on base or scoring runs. But after the Indians outscored the Phillies, 20-2, in a couple blowout losses this week at Progressive Field, Cliff Lee made an interesting comment about the team’s play.
“They pretty much pounded us both games, there’s no way around it,” he said. “They crushed us both games. It was never really close, either one of them. We have to have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive. Both games, it was never close.”
Asked this afternoon about Lee’s comments on MLB Network’s “The Rundown Live,” Jimmy Rollins said, “It’s back and forth. It’s tough to put a finger on it. There are times we come out and the energy’s there behind us and you go out there and play and we go out there and perform as a team. Then there are games and series where it’s just like we’re stuck in neutral. Not going forward, not going back but not getting going at all. And that’s the thing that we can’t have. On the field, we go out there every single day. Guys are coming in early to prepare. I’m even getting there much earlier than you remember, to prepare. But it just isn’t happening all the time on the field. The good thing is, we have a long way to go. We’ve just got to make sure we take advantage of it and take what we do in practice into the game and we’ll be okay.”
Charlie Manuel said a lack of pride, leadership and effort are not the reasons why the Phillies have been unable to get on a roll. He pointed to their success in a weekend sweep against the Mets. They won because they played well, not because they cared more. No, he said, the losing is more about the team simply playing poorly the first month of the season. For what it’s worth, I agree. This team is loaded with veterans, MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars and postseason MVPs. I don’t think they want to be losers. I think they care. I just think they’re playing very, very poorly.
The real question should be this: Are they simply having a slow start or are they just this bad? Manuel’s teams are habitually slow starters. From 2005-12, they are 370-341 (.520) before the All-Star break, which is 11th in baseball. They are 357-228 (.610) after the All-Star break, which is second. I think this team needs a little more time. But like I blogged earlier today, they only have a couple more months. They have to be moving in the right direction come July or you’ll see some of this team’s top talent elsewhere.
The injury pushed John Mayberry Jr. into the lineup tonight against Miami at Citizens Bank Park.
“His finger, that kind of definitely made it easier for me to put Mayberry in there,” Charlie Manuel said.
Revere had his right ring and middle fingers wrapped before batting practice. He said the finger is swollen, but expects to be back in the lineup Friday. Of course, if Mayberry has a big game Thursday that could change. Revere missed four consecutive games recently because of a sore right quadriceps, but it sounded like he could have been playing earlier if he had been hitting better.
Revere entered the night with the third-lowest slugging percentage (.226) and 12th lowest on-base percentage (.245) in baseball.
“If I take a day to get the swelling out it should be good,” Revere said. “We had x-rays. Everything was good.”
The Indians beat them last night, 6-0, to outscore them 20-2 in the two-game series. The Phillies spoke of the Indians, who are fifth in baseball in scoring (5.04 runs per game) and third in OPS (.799), like they were the ’27 Yankees. Hot. Unstoppable. They hit seven homers Tuesday, but scattered seven infield hits to help them win last night. They took advantage of their opportunities, while most Phillies fans felt like they could turn the channel after the fourth inning both nights because they knew the Phillies weren’t going to make a game of it.
Those feelings weren’t misplaced.
“We have to have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive,” Cliff Lee said. “Both games, it was never close.”
Phillies fans are frustrated, and understandably so. These games have been tough to watch. The Phillies are 26th in scoring (3.57 runs per game) and 26th in OPS (.679). This is not what the Phillies said would happen with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard healthy. But they have been no magic cure because other players need to hit, too. Phillies outfielders have a .601 OPS, which is the worst mark in baseball. They have grounded into 25 double plays. That ranks only ninth in baseball, but they rank fifth in GIDP percentage (14.2 percent). They are 5-13 in games started by Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Lee.
The good news? It is early, technically. We’ve seen the Phillies play poorly at the beginning of the season in the past. It might be tough, but give them another couple months. If they’re playing like this in late June, it likely means they will be way behind in the standings. And if that is the case, I suspect Ruben Amaro Jr. will hold another fire sale. And if you thought last year’s was big with Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and Joe Blanton, this one could (re: should) dwarf that. I mean, why hold onto a bunch of players with value or entering the final years of their contracts. That means Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Carlos Ruiz, Delmon Young, Halladay, Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams could be trade candidates. In the meantime, there simply is little to be done other than hope they finally start playing well.
The Phillies will have a chance to get healthy with a four-game series against the Marlins beginning tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Anything less than three wins is a disappointment. The Marlins (8-20) are a terrible team, regardless of the fact that “any team wearing big-league uniforms has a chance to win,” as the cliche goes. The Phillies are at home, playing against a very, very bad team without their only star player, slugger Giancarlo Stanton. They should roll.
If they show a little more pride maybe they will.
“It’s nothing crazy,” said Young, who thought he could play in right field as early as tomorrow night against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. “I’ve got a big fat knot right there. Today was one of those days where if I had to play out there I could have played.”
But because this is an interleague series Manuel DH’d Young instead.
“Yeah, probably,” said Manuel, asked if Young could be his rightfielder tomorrow. “Probably going to take a couple days for the soreness to get out his arm, though.”