Philadelphia Phillies Faced with Reality That Roy Halladay May Never Be Back

Dan Levy@danlevythinksNational Lead WriterMay 6, 2013

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 30: Starting pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts in the dugout after leaving the game during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on April 30, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Roy Halladay gave up five runs on two hits in the first inning of the Philadelphia Phillies' 14-2 loss to the Miami Marlins on Sunday. After a clean second inning, Halladay allowed another four runs to cross in the third, leaving the game after surrendering nine runs while only recording seven outs.

After the game, Halladay admitted he has been battling shoulder soreness. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro told reporters the Phillies will have no choice but to put Halladay on the disabled list.

Per Phillies.com:

We're likely to have to put Doc on the DL. Up until now he hasn't really expressed any discomfort. He hasn't been on our injury report. But now it sounds like we'll have to DL him. Until we do some diagnostic work, we won't know exactly what's going on with him, but clearly, it doesn't seem like he's very healthy. It was pretty apparent with his performance, unfortunately.

Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki confirmed the news on Monday.  

The Phillies had to be watching the game—seeing one of the great pitchers of our generation completely fall apart for the fifth time in eight starts this season—wondering if Halladay will ever return to top form.

Halladay told reporters after the game that his shoulder has been sore since the Pittsburgh Pirates outing on April 24, validating the belief that something was physically wrong with him during these last two outings. Per the Phillies.com report: 

I felt good all spring. I felt good all year. I just got up after that start against Pittsburgh and had soreness in there and wasn't able to get rid of it. That's really all I have. We don't have a lot of information on it. We did some tests, and obviously they aren't completely conclusive as to what it is.

As writers, we are asked to take our fan caps off and try to look at a player, team or story in an objective way. I'm not ashamed to admit that with this player on this team involved in this story, objectivity is impossible. I root for Roy Halladay not just because he is on the Phillies, but because it has been a true pleasure to watch him work the last few years. 

There have not been many players in the history of the game like Halladay, so to have the privilege of watching him work every fifth day has been incredible.

Now, watching him fall apart and hearing him search for answers after each demoralizing loss this year has been like seeing a member of your family slip away...with nothing you can do about it. 

At times this year, the old Roy was back, like in his seven-inning, two-hit, six-strikeout win over the St. Louis Cardinals in April or his six-inning, one-hit, eight-strikeout gem against the Pirates the next time out.

I was convinced, as a fan and a writer, Halladay was back. Sure, he didn't have the same velocity, but after two rough outings to start the season, the former ace had figured out a way to change his game.

Everything would be OK, wouldn't it? 

Watching his last two outings—Halladay gave up eight runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings against the Cleveland Indians in his last start before Sunday's debacle—there were flashes of the old Halladay here and there.

In the second inning on Sunday, Halladay threw just 10 pitches, retiring the side in order. The old Halladay looked like he was back, for a fleeting moment.

Of course, that was after walking two, hitting one and giving up a bases-loaded double and a bases-clearing triple in the first inning. The second-inning success was also before the third-inning humiliation, when Halladay hit another batter, walked the next, gave up a single to load the bases and, after a strikeout, served up a 1-0 fastball only to see it smacked over the right-field fence.

Grand slam. 

Adeiny Hechavarria, the Marlins hitter responsible for the bases-clearing homerun, came into Sunday batting .169 with three RBI on the season. After his triple in the first and grand slam in the third, the light-hitting shortstop upped his total to 10 RBI, with seven coming in two at-bats off a former Cy Young Award winner and likely Hall of Famer in Halladay.

Only, this isn't the same guy he was. He can't be, and it's looking more and more like he won't be anymore. 

If it wasn't bad enough for Halladay on Sunday—being hung out to dry by his manager and pitching coach when they left him in the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the third—Halladay had to stand on the mound after the grand slam until the umpires could finish reviewing the play.

During the break for review, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz trotted out to the mound and chatted with Halladay. The television cameras showed a close-up of the two, leaving viewers to wonder what that conversation must have been like. 

What do you say to the greatest pitcher you've had the chance to catch when you both realize it's over? 

Phillies fans can't expect Halladay to return and be the pitcher he once was, and after a year filled with injuries and ineffectiveness, it's fair to speculate if Halladay will ever come back at all. 

What if he can't get it back? Halladay doesn't owe anyone anything. How many times can he try to get back the greatness before he realizes it might not be there anymore? 

Phils manager Charlie Manuel was asked a question about Halladay's future after the game (via Phillies.com): 

We always talk to him. As long as he feels like he is healthy and can pitch and the doctor says he's healthy we pretty much…gotta send him back out there.

I think he's very professional. I think that how he thinks is what he's going to come and tell me. I think if it got to that, he'd come and talk to me about that. 

You can infer what "that" is pretty clearly. Nobody wants to talk about "that," especially not a pitcher like Halladay who just won a Cy Young award two years ago. "That" shouldn't have come this fast.

Halladay missed nearly seven weeks last season with an extended stint on the disabled list after several horrible outings in May. He was out all of June and half of July before coming back to, honestly, a similar result to what the Phillies have seen season. In some games last year, Halladay looked like the Cy Young award winner we remembered. Others, not so much.

After a dreadful run in September, the Phillies—following weeks of speculation—finally shut Halladay down with a few starts left in the season. Something was clearly wrong, and it took both the pitcher and the team too long to admit it.

This year was supposed to be different, even though Halladay had a woeful time in spring training trying to find his command and getting his velocity anywhere close to what he needed to be effective at the major league level. Some pundits suggested the Phillies should have left Halladay in extended spring training when the team came back up for the regular season, certain something had to be wrong with him.

Halladay kept insisting he was fine physically, and the team had no other choice but to believe him.

Think about the predicament the Phillies brass were in having to trust that one of the greats in the history of the game could work through his problems when performance after performance is indicating he can't.

Then, after two horrible starts to begin the regular season and a trip to the DL or demotion from the rotation looming with another bad outing, the guy pitched three straight gems.

We were all fooled into thinking he was back because we wanted to be. 

Nobody thought he was the same Halladay as 2009 or 2010, but if anyone could find a way to get guys out with the stuff he had left, it was Doc.

Maybe we were the ones losing it. 

When Halladay was pulled on Sunday, he kept his back turned away from the dugout until Manuel lumbered all the way out to the mound to take the ball. 

Halladay walked off to a smattering of groans, boos—most of the boos were likely directed at Manuel for leaving Halladay out there so long—and applause, with some fans left hoping that a cheer or two might serve to remind the ace know of how much he means to the team, the fans and the city.

"You'll get 'em next time, Roy."

Watching someone you love slip away is never easy. Knowing he may never come back—at least not as who he once was—is even harder.