CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Charlie Manuel said he wouldn't hold anyone back from swinging during the first live batting practice of the season. Against their own pitchers, most players will "track" pitches early in spring training, which is baseball lingo for standing there and taking the pitch.
So when Roy Halladay toed the rubber against a group of left-handed hitters that included Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez, Ross Gload and Domonic Brown, the only one daring enough to take a hack was the rookie Brown.
He took three swings.
"I was just trying to get in there and see a few pitches and try to hit a longball off him," Brown said. "But it was nasty. Pretty nasty."
Brown fouled off two pitches and whiffed on another. And this was even with Halladay letting the hitters know what pitch was coming.
"His stuff is cutting," Brown said. "He has a nasty sinker. He didn't throw the slider at all. He threw a pretty good change-up. It's just nasty. He's one of the best pitchers I've ever faced and I only saw 15 or 20 pitches. But his movement is just unbelievable."
Of course, Halladay said he would have preferred to not have the screens in the way so he could better simulate a live session. But Halladay said the batting practice was a good chance to work both sides of the plate with his pitches -- especially throwing inside to hitters.
"The earlier the better," Halladay said of throwing inside. "That's something I try to do as much as I can. I think if you can do it against your own teammates when you obviously don't want to hit anybody, if you can do it comfortably, it's usually a good sign."
Halladay said he wasn't surprised it was Brown who took the only swings against him. Younger players want to show the brass what they have.
Brown smiled and said he was just following marching orders.
"They just said swing if you want to," Brown said. "I saw Raul, I was like, 'Can we swing or what?' Because I was the only guy swinging. I kind of felt bad. But I just wanted to swing. That's all."
And Halladay had a few compliments for the top prospect.
"I've heard great things about him," Halladay said. "First time you see a guy at bat, it's hard to see what they're all about. But he's a big guy. He's a big guy when he's standing in there."