Roy Halladay was sitting in front of his locker wearing sweatpants and staring at an iPad. We are about two hours away from his first action of the 2013 season, and everybody is curious what they will see out of the veteran righthander. Halladay had a rough spring training as he battled to find his cutter, a pitch that has been an integral part of his success over the past decade. Charlie Manuel relayed a conversation he had with Halladay prior to Monday night's season-opening loss to the Braves, which was started by Cole Hamels. Manuel asked Halladay if he felt ready to pitch in a couple of days.
"He said, 'Yeah, I wanted to pitch the first game but you didn't want me to,'" Manuel said with a glint in his eye. "That's a good answer. That's the kind of answer you like."
Halladay has been steadfast in his confidence throughout the spring, insisting that he feels capable of pitching like a top-of-the-rotation starter despite questions about his velocity, movement and location. The average velocity on Halladay's sinker has dropped from 93.29 in 2010 to 92.71 in 2011 to 91.15 in 2012, according to BrooksBaseball.net's database of Major League Baseball's pitch FX readings. During that span, the velocity on his cutter has dropped from 92.03 to 91.47 to 89.41. So his cutter last season was 2 MPH slower than it was in 2011. Nevertheless, Manuel said he will not be looking at the radar gun.
"I look at the hitters," Manuel said, referring to the kinds of swings they are getting at pitches.
Everything he needs to see from Halladay, Manuel said, "He'll show me in the first couple of innings."
The lineup is the same tonight as it was last night: Ben Revere CF, Jimmy Rollins SS, Chase Utley 2B, Ryan Howard 1B, Michael Young 3B, Domonic Brown LF, John Mayberry Jr. RF, Erik Kratz C. Manuel said he does not have any concerns about Utley and Howard batting back-to-back against lefty Paul Maholm and the two tough lefty relievers that the Braves have in the bullpen.
"I don't know how much more I can change it," the manager said. "It is what it is."
One option would have Utley batting second and Rollins or Young batting third. Clearly, Manuel wants Ben Revere as his leadoff hitter. And after Utley's 3-for-5 performance on Opening Night, which included a triple and a home run, he wants his trusted second baseman in the three-hole.