CLEARWATER, Fla. — It's been remarked on several occasions that no one knows his right arm better than Roy Halladay. The man literally tracks every single ball that comes from his hand — whether it be during a postseason game, a bullpen session in January or a Grapefruit League game in March. He keeps those numbers in a journal, along with his tedious notes on opposing hitters.
So when Rich Dubee walked to the mound Wednesday to inform Halladay he had thrown 66 pitches and Halladay told him he wanted one more batter, it was probably the best sign that Halladay's right arm isn't hurting.
A FOXSports.com report, citing two anonymous scouts, implied Halladay could be injured because his velocity has dipped this spring and he was throwing from a lower arm slot. That, of course, prompted panic.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was quoted in that report, downplaying Halladay's bad outing. On Thursday morning, when asked again about the report, the GM claimed he had not read it. Then he issued a strong denial.
"There's nothing wrong with him," Amaro said. "He's fine. There's no basis for the alarm."
Amaro then walked away laughing haughtily.
Halladay told reporters Thursday morning that any speculation of arm trouble based off the velocity numbers is false.
"That's poor reporting at the extreme end of poor reporting," Halladay said. "It couldn't be further from the truth."
The scouts quoted in the report claimed Halladay topped at 89 m.p.h. Wednesday. During his last start in Lakeland, Fla., Halladay hovered between 88-92 m.p.h. Both times, Halladay left the field after full inning in the dugout.
But after his outing Wednesday, Halladay said he threw more change-ups than usual. Why? He wanted to work on it. Typically, that's what pitchers like Halladay do in the spring; they work on the little things they want to improve without paying attention to the results — or velocity.
"I don't pay attention to that," Halladay told reporters Thursday morning. "You know, the older you get, the more you throw, the longer it takes to get yourself going," Halladay said. "When I came up, I threw 98. Last year, I was throwing 92-93. So, you know, it's not unusual. But when you get older, it takes longer. The more innings you throw, the more time it takes to get yourself going again."
In fact, even as Halladay realized Wednesday he didn't have a feel for the change-up, he told Carlos Ruiz he wanted more chances with it.
"I told Chooch, 'Keep calling it as much as you can,'" Halladay said. "See if we can figure out how it feels when it's off. We have some ideas and things I can play with in my next bullpen."
So that could be one reason for Halladay's velocity being lower; he simply was throwing more off-speed pitches. Or, the simple fact that Halladay has thrown 7,032 pitches over the last two regular seasons might be a reason for him coming into camp not "like gangbusters" as one anonymous scout said in the FOXSports report.
Halladay charts every pitch he throws. Maybe he's deemed his fastball velocity not as important during Grapefruit League play as his change-up and cutter location. He was already scheduled for an extra day of rest before his next appearance, Tuesday in Sarasota, Fla., against Baltimore.
Dubee, perhaps anticipating some questions given Halladay's 10.57 ERA in three outings, laughed about the results.
"Do you think we’re going to jump off a bridge because Doc had a bad outing?" Dubee said. "Doc’s got three more times."
Some will jump away. Others, with proper context, will withhold judgment.
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