Doc leaves Phils wondering.
Phils concerned about Halladay.
No, those are not just sentence fragments intended to expose my weakness with the English language. Those are a few of Tuesday’s headlines. It’s frightening stuff. When I was alerted to the atrocities occurring on the mound at Bright House Field, my initial thought was, “If Doc is done, the Phillies are done.”
If you rely on overwhelming evidence to determine your reality, then pay close attention to my first thoughts. The stats show an outing in which Doc allowed seven runs, six hits, two home runs, four walks, and one strikeout. Even more telling was, according to Bob Brookover, "a fastball that topped out around 87 m.p.h. and was clocked more often at 84 to 85."
Should we be concerned? If the comments from the Phillies skipper and pitching coach hold any merit, the answer is hells yeah.
Rich Dubee did his best to minimize his fears. "I would say there's some concern," Dubee said. "But I would say a lot of it has to do with having no tempo to his delivery. Doc is a big rhythm guy. He just hasn't been able to find his yet."
Dubee also did his best to suggest Halladay's issue is merely a problem with his approach. "I think he's probably going to pitch similar to what he used to pitch with his dominant sinker," Dubee said. "I think sometimes he runs away from his fastball and we had a good talk about that afterward today."
Here is where we get to the heart of the matter: his velocity. "Whether it is 88 or 92, he is still going to have to pitch off his fastball and trust his fastball," Dubee said. "I think now even some of our catchers are getting caught in too many ruts where we are going soft with him and not protecting the soft with the fastball."
The fact that a pitching coach is willing to even mention the number 88 sounds huge alarms to this Phillies fan.
Charlie Manuel did very little to calm any concerns.
"He said he's healthy," Charlie said. "He said he feels good. He said there's nothing wrong with him physically. Yeah, it concerns me, but I've been in the game long enough to know that if there's nothing wrong with him, you keep working him."
"I don't know if he'll ever get back to where he was three years ago, but he'll be good enough to win a lot of games in the big leagues," the manager said. "I've seen pitchers come to Spring Training and have a hard time getting going. I've seen it over and over. If he finds it, I think he'll definitely be better."
That sounds to me like a manager who has already come to the realization that his ace starter is a shell of his former self. Let me repeat one of his comments in case you missed it. "He'll be good enough to win a lot of games." It's a nice compliment for Kyle Kendrick or John Lannon, but could you ever imagine him referencing Doc in the same manner two years ago?
This may not be all doom and gloom, though, because Roy Halladay has a very different take on the situation.
"Just lethargic" is how Halladay described his performance. "I was really lethargic. Warming up, it was as good as it has been all year. Once we got out there, it was completely different. I think it's just that time of the spring. . . . We had an extra day [between his starts], so I threw two bullpens in between and you're trying to work on as much stuff as you can. So I really feel that kind of caught up with me today."
"I just felt lethargic. But you know, that was kind of the point today. I was really working on some things as we all do during spring training. Today was all about my lethargy -- well, Dubee calls it the ‘L-Bomb’ -- but I call it my lethargy ball. It’s kind of like a telegraphed changeup in the middle of the plate. I modeled it after an early [Kyle] Kendrick sinker, but don’t tell him I said that.”
The good news is that Halladay gives the impression that this was all completely expected and part of his master plan all along. But the bad news is...well...huh?
"When you know in your head what's going on, it's a lot different," he said. "So the results aren't satisfying - that's obvious - but I think the work we've done, there has been a lot of progress made. Unfortunately we got to a point where we've done so much throwing that I really kind of just felt lethargic."
"I'm trying to use this time as best as I can to prepare myself for the season. And it's going to cost you sometimes. It cost me today. But that's fine if I have the results I hope to have during the season because of the preparation we've put in, that it worked. So, that's when we find out. Right now, I'm not real concerned with the numbers and results, as long as I feel like we're progressing in the right direction."
I like to believe that the good doctor is telling the truth (unlike last Spring Training), but it is hard to ignore the 88mph elephant in the room. Roy boy doesn't seem worried about that, either.
"I'm not worried about the velocity," Halladay said. "It's going to be up from that. I'm very confident of that. That's more a result of what we did during the week, what we did in the weight room, and what we did on the field."
"I'm happy with where we are strength-wise, where I am physically, the fact that nothing hurts," Halladay said. "We have a plan and I'm still trying to build . . . I'm trying to use this time as best as I can to prepare myself for the season. And it's going to cost you sometimes. It cost me today."
“The good part is there’s no soreness. Nothing hurts. And I’ll trade that any day of the week, feeling lethargic over being sore like last spring training.”
Speak for yourself, Doc. Over here I am experiencing optimism soreness and hurt predictions. I doubt I am the only one.
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