Halladay: Phillies needed a change from Charlie Manuel
LAKEWOOD, N.J. - Roy Halladay has earned as much respect as a baseball player can carry over the course of his career. When he speaks, his words carry weight. So before we delve into his rehab outing at Class A Lakewood last night, it's probably worth considering his views on the Phillies' decision to fire Charlie Manuel last week. Because while Halladay did not explicitly endorse the move, he certainly indicated that the time was right for a change.
"I've exchanged texts with him, and obviously I loved him - he was great," said Halladay, who pitched in a rehab outing in Clearwater, Fla., the night before the news broke that Ryne Sandberg had replaced Manuel. "But from what I've seen, Ryne came in and made some changes and addressed some issues that I think were being overlooked. So from that standpoint, as much as I miss Charlie, I think that Ryne is going to do a good job, and I think he's going to bring back a little more of the Phillie baseball style than we've had the last couple of years. We really haven't had that whole team effort and that whole team hustle that I think we've had in the prior years."
What were the issues?
"Just different things, guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls, taking extra BP, all those little things that nobody thinks makes a difference," Halladay said. "I think he's been very good so far. But again, and I don't want to take away anything from Charlie, we all respected him tremendously, and I think he's going to have a choice of what he wants to do next."
The Phillies' front office has taken plenty of heat for the way it handled Manuel's dismissal, but Halladay's sentiments offer a pretty clear reminder that you can have respect for all that Manuel accomplished and still understand why the team thought it was time for a change.
Whether Halladay ever pitches for Sandberg is still unclear. The fact that he logged his second straight rehab outing of more than 85 pitches roughly 3 months after shoulder surgery is an achievement of its own. But it is hard to imagine that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. left FirstEnergy Park convinced that the two-time Cy Young Award winner was ready to face major league hitters.
Halladay was adequate enough to hold a Class A lineup to two runs in six innings. But most of the hitters he faced will never sniff the major leagues. The few who prove to be exceptions are not likely to do so for at least another 3 or 4 years. The shortstop who played behind Halladay, 2013 first-round pick J.P. Crawford, was a senior in high school less than 3 months ago. And any significant increase in the quality of the opponent likely would have spelled trouble.
Halladay displayed much more control than in his last outing with the Phillies, when he walked four batters and hit two with pitches in an ugly start against the Marlins on May 4. But he went through a few stretches in which he appeared to suffer variations of the same problems that plagued him throughout April and May, when he allowed 33 runs in 34 1/3 innings over seven starts before landing on the disabled list with what ultimately was diagnosed to be fraying in the labrum and rotator cuff along with an inflamed bursa sac. There were times when he struggled to control the run on his sinker and the pitch would scream outside of the strike zone. He struggled to locate his pitches on the glove side of the plate (outside to righties, inside to lefties), although he improved in that aspect in his last two innings. Halladay seemed to think that his flaws are more indicative of rust than anything, and that more mound time will result in a better repletion of his mechanics.
Halladay's velocity wasn't much different from what it was when he last pitched for the Phillies, topping out at 89 and generally sitting in the 86- to 88-mph range. He generated most of his swings and misses on his curveball and changeup, getting a hitter to swing through a fastball only once or twice. In 2011, Halladay's fastball generally was 90 to 92 mph.
"I think it's going to increase," Halladay said. "But if it didn't, I think I could pitch at the velocity that I'm at right now and be effective and give our team a chance to win. I'm definitely a lot more effective than I was before the surgery. Before, I didn't have the location, I didn't have the movement. I was lacking a lot of things. To get most of it back, minus a couple of clicks on the velocity, is good. And, hopefully, that's coming. I keep in close contact with surgeon and he said, 'That's the last thing you need to worry about.' He said, 'It will be there, just keep doing what you are doing and focusing on continuing to build.' I'm happy with where things are at being 3 months out of surgery . . . "
His final line: six innings, seven hits, two runs, three walks, four strikeouts, 90 pitches, 55 for strikes, eight ground balls, five fly balls, three line drives.
Halladay was characteristically optimistic after the outing, although he seemed to understand he was unlikely to return to the big leagues in 5 days.
"I feel like Jamie Moyer did it, and he was throwing 82," Halladay said. "I definitely feel like I can do it. But again, that's their call."
The counterargument is that Moyer spent most of his career pitching at that velocity, while Halladay was always a power pitcher who relied heavily on his sinker and cutter. Five days from now, his reinvention will continue.
On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy