Roy Halladay's 2013 spring training performance has been just shy of disastrous.
Halladay was knocked around again in his most recent trip to the mound, a four-inning, 81-pitch, seven-hit slog against a lineup comprised of Triple-A hitters, per Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
How bad was it? He retired only seven of 18 batters. One of the innings was halted by Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee with the bases loaded and two out—presumably because the Phillies did not want Halladay rearing back to get out of the exhibition jam only to hurt himself for real.
Take a minute and think about how desolate things have become for Halladay when his corner man has to temporarily stop the fight against a Triple-A lineup.
This was hardly the step forward Halladay or the Phillies were hoping for, following consecutive appearances that saw Halladay touched up by the Detroit Tigers and then removed after one inning against the Baltimore Orioles because of a stomach virus.
Spring training statistics are meaningless, but spring training radar-gun readings? They do not lie.
Halladay himself conceded Saturday, for the first time meaningfully and honestly, that he will have to pitch for the foreseeable future (perhaps until he is done) with a diminished arsenal.
Halladay's candor is admirable, though there probably was no point in denying the obvious.
"My goal today going in was to feel good, be strong all the way through, to feel like my arm slot was repeating, and I felt like that was there," Halladay said.
The Phillies would probably rather have heard that Halladay was "still building arm strength" or even that he "is still not 100 percent back." At least that would have given some hope that the Cy Young version of Halladay is in there somewhere.
But if Halladay feels great and cannot hit 90 on the gun with his fastball, what next?
Stark's blog piece (even more cautionary than the overview story he filed) included some four-alarm-bell quotes from Halladay.
“I don’t know of any guys throwing harder as they got older,” Halladay said. “A lot of the guys I've played with, I've watched...I've watched (other older pitchers) evolve and do different things. I've never seen a guy that threw harder as he got older."
So Halladay is going to become Greg Maddux now?
The curious part of Saturday's debacle and Thursday's upcoming "final tuneup" for Halladay before he faces the Atlanta Braves in a game that counts is the opponent.
The Triple-A outfit that handed Halladay his head Saturday belonged to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Halladay will face the Blue Jays' major leaguers (some of them, anyway) Thursday.
Baseball is a funny game. Half a generation ago, Halladay was throwing seeds and BBs for the Blue Jays, winning a Cy Young Award with them in 12 years but never sniffing postseason play.
Halladay accepted a trade to the Phillies for the 2010 season and signed a contract extension with them because he figured it was an E-ZPass lane to the playoffs.
"It was an easy decision for me. Once the opportunity came up for me to be part of this, it was something I couldn't pass up," Halladay said at the time (per ESPN.com).
Look at the picture three scant years later.
The Phillies are coming off an 81-81 season and are solid favorites in the National League East...for third place.
Halladay is struggling mightily.
Conversely, the Blue Jays are favored to win the American League East and maybe even the World Series (per Bovada).
And in a few days, in an otherwise mundane preseason game, the Blue Jays have a chance to put another blemish on Halladay's hope of finding what he has lost.
When Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos traded Halladay, he might have been thinking that by the time his team would be ready to contend, Halladay would probably not be "that pitcher" anymore.
Quickly, the Phillies and the Blue Jays are finding out how prescient the move turned out to be.
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