Sunday, December 28, 2014

Roy Halladay reset: 'Injured' versus 'aging'

Is the righthander's latest problem something that can be repaired, or is it just too late?

Roy Halladay reset: 'Injured' versus 'aging'

Phillies´ pitcher Roy Halladay.
Phillies' pitcher Roy Halladay. Yong Kim/Staff Photographer

Everything I wrote back in February still stands today.

You can't fault an elite athlete for trying to convince himself that his body is capable of completing the task at hand. It's the mindset that is required at this level of competition. The reason why organizations have a general manager and three assistant general managers and legions of scouts and personnel staffers and a fleet of uniformed coaches is so that athletes can worry about one thing and one thing only: getting their minds and bodies ready to play.

Anybody who has watched Roy Halladay since spring training has known that his body is not allowing him to do the things that he once did. It's not on him to decide whether he is hurting the team. It's on him to compete to the best of his ability, and part of that means tricking himself into believing that he does not have any physical limitations. It's on the coaches and personnel men to decide when his best is not good enough.

Yesterday, that happened.

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The only question now is whether there is something about Roy Halladay's body that can be fixed, and chances are good that there is not. Keep in mind the Phillies took a pretty good look at the diagnositc images of his shoulder last June, bringing in specialist David Altchek from New York to provide a second opinion.

There is a reason that process took longer than usual. Chances are, that reason is that Roy Halladay has the shoulder of a 36-year-old who has thrown the second most innings in the major leagues over the last decade. To say that Halladay is "injured" is to suggest that there is something about him that can be fixed. Since last summer I have gotten the sense that Halladay knows that whatever is wrong with his body is irreversible, and that his only option is to grit his teeth and make some changes and battle through. Shoot, it might not even be accurate to say that there is something "wrong" with his body. His body is acting quite normal for a human body its age. Remember Pedro Martinez? He was 37 years old during his nine-start cameo for the Phillies The year before he posted a 5.61 ERA in 20 starts for the Mets. There was nothing "wrong" with him. He was 36 years old.

Sometimes, it just works this way. In 2008, Brandon Webb pitched 226 2/3 innings and recorded his third straight Top Two finish in the Cy Young voting. He started one major league game the rest of his career.

Johan Santana is going to miss his second full season in three years. And he is only 33 years old. In 2011, Chris Carpenter pitched the Cardinals the World Series, shutting out the Phillies in a decisive Game Five in the process. Now, he's virtually retired. When it goes, it goes fast. There's a reason why so many players get to a point where they figure they might as well try and get some artificial help to reverse the aging process. It went fast for Brad Lidge and there's no guarantee it won't go fast for Jonathan Papelbon or Mike Adams or Cliff Lee. Right now, though, it is Roy Halladay, and it sucks to watch, but it is reality. The two likely outcomes of this whole thing are either major shoulder surgery or two months of rest followed by one last get-up-and-go. Which, in Halladay's mind, you would have to think means one outcome.

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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