Facing Jays no big deal for Halladay
Former Toronto ace focused on winning, not opponent
PHILADELPHIA -- If Roy Halladay has a sentimental side, if he is nostalgic for the past, he is not showing it.
The Toronto Blue Jays are just another team to him.
Of course, they are not just another team. The Blue Jays made Halladay a first-round pick in the 1995 First-Year Player Draft. He played for them from 1998-2009. He won the '03 American League Cy Young for the Jays and represented them in six All-Star Games. He was the face of the franchise until they traded him to the Phillies in December for prospects Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis d'Arnaud.
But Halladay, who will pitch against the Blue Jays on Friday at Citizens Bank Park for the first time since the trade, said facing Toronto is no different than Sunday's start against the Minnesota Twins, or next week's outing against the Cincinnati Reds.
"It'll be a regular start," he said. "Fortunately, I got [facing the Blue Jays] out of the way in Spring Training.
"It's a little different [with them] being an American League team, and obviously guys I've seen a lot but haven't really faced. You do your homework and go out and pitch."
Halladay, who faced the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game in Spring Training in March, works like a machine in between starts. It is what has made him successful, and he is not about to change.
He has no time for sentimentality. It could only sidetrack him.
Halladay would have faced the Blue Jays on Friday in Toronto, except the G-20 Summit forced Major League Baseball to move the series to Philadelphia. The Blue Jays technically will be the home team, despite the fact they will be playing in front of Phillies fans. Toronto will hit last and use the designated hitter.
"In certain respects, it's going to be a little easier being here," Halladay said. "The media stuff and being in the city hopefully is a little easier here. From that respect, I think hopefully it's probably beneficial."
Halladay is 8-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 15 starts with the Phillies. He should have a few more wins, but has received little run support in recent weeks.
Halladay waived his no-trade clause and signed a three-year, $60 million extension to come to Philadelphia because he said he wanted to win. He felt the Blue Jays had little chance of surpassing the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East, while the Phillies had won three consecutive National League East championships.
Interestingly, the Phillies have struggled for several weeks, and sit in third place behind the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. The Blue Jays are in fourth.
"It's a long season," Halladay said. "I think we all feel we need to get it going in the right direction. But there's been a lot of positives in the last week. We've just got to kind of forget about the tough ones and keep moving forward."
Halladay said the lack of run support hasn't bothered him, either. That should not be a surprise. If pitching against the Blue Jays is like facing the Pirates or Orioles, then a few games with no help is nothing more than an inconvenience.
"Executing pitches is first and foremost. Whether we're scoring nine or none, that'll never change," he said. "For me, it's important to keep the focus on that and keep that approach."
Drabek, who was the Phillies' top pitching prospect, is 7-7 with a 3.26 ERA in 15 starts for Double-A New Hampshire. He has similar numbers to what he posted last season in Double-A Reading (8-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 15 appearances), but is walking 4.1 batters per nine innings.
The Blue Jays traded Taylor to Oakland for Brett Wallace. Taylor is hitting .241 with three home runs and 31 RBIs with Triple-A Sacramento. His .687 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is nearly 300 points lower than his combined OPS last season with Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. D'Arnaud is hitting .269 with five homers and 27 RBIs with Class A Dunedin.
It is too early to tell who fared better in the trade, although Halladay certainly has pitched like an ace. He hopes to pitch like one again Friday, too. But if he does, it won't mean much more than any other win against any other team.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.