Roy Halladay mania is in full swing already at the start of Spring Training. Reports that he has been working out in Clearwater since mid-December and that he arrives at the ballpark by 5:45am every day are impressing the fans, his teammates and his coaches. Manager Charlie Manuel compared his work ethic to that of Chase Utley although he noted, “He (Halladay) smiles more than Chase.”
While the Utley comparisons are fun, the biggest comparisons this year are bound to be about Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Many Phillies fans are still in denial over the departure of Lee and that trade will be questioned all year long and perhaps even for years to come. If Hamels does not return to form and Lee does well with the Mariners, expect some strong reaction from the fan base. However, Lee did just have surgery on his foot to remove some bone fragments which will put him about a week behind schedule; this should give Halladay and Hamels a “toe” up in the race to see who comes out of the chute fastest.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee made it clear last week when speaking to the media that he believes Hamels’ issues last year revolved more around his mental game than his physical game. Dubee told Todd Zolecki of The Zo Zone, “The biggest problem with Cole last year? In my opinion he pitched with a lot of anger. With himself mostly. He’s such a perfectionist. You don’t pitch with anger. He really wasn’t nearly as focused as he was the two previous years. He expects a lot out of himself, but your expectations of what you want and the way you approach it are very, very important. And his approach wasn’t very good last year.”
So while Hamels has some personal reflecting to do, other pitchers in camp like Jamie Moyer, need only overcome their physical issues. Moyer’s recovery after 3 surgeries this off-season is precarious. He did throw off the mound on the first day of camp, so that is good news.
But with younger pitchers like Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings to take the 5th starter spot from Moyer, this should be a very intense spring. Rumor has it that Kendrick, who was previously mentored mostly by Moyer, has latched onto Roy Halladay this spring like a baby bird looking for his next meal. Kendrick has been showing up early to work with Halladay who has apparently been hand-feeding Kendrick information.
So the competition will continue to heat up over the coming weeks. And if the temperatures here in the northeast could start heating up as well, that would be awesome. Still in the 40’s here but I am hopeful that Spring will be here soon!
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Halladay photo: ESPN.com; Kendrick photo by Jenn