Halladay on life, liberty and the pursuit of postseason

Roy Halladay throws to fellow pitcher Kyle Kendrick during spring training in Clearwater today. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay's alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m. every morning. He has about a 45-minute drive from his home in Oldsmar, Fla., to Bright House Field. His goal is to be the first one at the park every day, which requires an arrival time of around 5:45 a.m.

"F or me, it’s a part of who I am," Halladay said of his work ethic. "And I think it’s an important part."

Some of the players, like Kyle Kendrick, have started working out with Halladay and are trying to beat him to the park in the morning. Halladay said his work ethic is the single reason why he has become one of the best pitchers in the game.

"I think that there are points in your career when you come up and have success and it’s based on talent," Halladay said. "I think that can’t be sustained throughout a career without putting in the effort to do things the right away, not only mentally but physically."

Halladay spoke on a number of topics during his first meeting with the media here. Some highlights:

Halladay said he understood many will compare him to Cliff Lee this season. He is, after all, wearing Lee's No. 34 jersey and is the ace the Phillies decided to keep.

"I think that's what baseball is," Halladay said. "I think everybody is always comparing different players. I think that's how they decide who is the better player. That's always been the case, whether it's guys on the team being compared to you or other teams. That's part of it. It's nothing that fortunately I have to pay attention to."

And what is he looking forward to the most with his change?

"Postseason. For me that's the ultimate," Halladay said. "Obviously there's no guarantee, but that's the driving force for me right now and the biggest reason. It was never about changing teammates, changing environments, changing cities. It was about wanting to pitch in October. That's what I look forward to here the most. Like I said there is no guarantees, but based on what they've done in the past and the guys who are in that clubhouse, I look forward to having that chance."

Halladay said he normally watches the playoffs on TV but this past year's World Series was the hardest. Not only was one of his good friends and former teammates, A.J. Burnett, pitching for the Yankees, but the team he was linked to the most in trade rumors, the Phillies, was also playing.

He said there were even times when the Blue Jays visited Philadelphia during Interleague play over the past two seasons where he would walk into the visitors' dugout and wonder what it would be like to sit on the other side.

And if the fans boo, Halladay said he's prepared for it.

"I think it’s part of it," he said. "There were times earlier in Toronto and for me it was tough because some of those games, you can hear every single guy yelling at you. I don’t know what’s worse — 40,000 or five guys you can actually hear. It’s a challenge. They expect to have a good team and they expect people to perform. I expect the same thing. I’d probably boo myself."

Halladay also said he wouldn't bite on Johan Santana's proclamation that Santana is the best pitcher in the NL East.

"No, I steer clear of that," Halladay said. "I think it was a Lou Holtz quote, 'Well done is always more important than well said.' I've always tried to take that philosophy. I try to stay out of those things as much as possible."

Much, much more in Saturday's Inquirer.