2/13/2013 3:00 P.M. ET
Doc confident he can rebound with healthy season
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay said everything everybody expected him to say Wednesday at Bright House Field:
He feels great.
Halladay's revamped offseason training program worked like he hoped.
He believes he can rebound from one of the worst seasons of his career.
"I'm not here to predict anything, but I feel good," Halladay said. "If I can feel the way I feel right now and maintain it and get stronger through the course of Spring Training like you normally do, I feel very confident that I can be effective."
Of course, the proof comes later when he faces big league hitters in the regular season. Halladay spent Wednesday speaking mostly about his health problems last season, revealing lower back problems in Spring Training instigated upper back and shoulder issues during the year. (He said he never previously mentioned the lower back issues because he did not know it was such a problem, until after dissecting video.)
Those issues forced Halladay to the disabled list, limiting him to 25 starts, an 11-8 record and a 4.49 ERA, which was his highest ERA since he finished the 2000 season with a 10.64 ERA.
But Halladay said he has a program in place to prevent those problems from coming back, which he said involves more rotational and functional exercises.
"When [the back] stiffened up on me, it put the pressure on my shoulder," Halladay said. "It changes everything. It really does. You're trying to throw with your arm instead of using your lower half and your core. To me, that leads to a lot of issues in the upper body. I feel like we've addressed those, we've alleviated them. Along with all that, we've done some arm care stuff differently this year; starting about midseason, we started changing some stuff. So I feel good all the way around."
Halladay, who turns 36 in May, said he does not believe those problems could simply be a byproduct of pitching 2,687 1/3 innings over the course of a 15-year career, or the fact every pitcher sees a decline in performance, even ones that work as hard as him.
"Nah," Halladay said. "I mean, every year you realize that you are a little older and a little slower and the game is getting quicker and guys are getting younger. I've felt very fortunate to have played as long as I've played. You don't take days for granted here. I don't think anybody does. So I've never really looked at it that way of, 'What if the better days are behind me?' For me, its always looking forward to what's in front of you and what's ahead of you and try to embrace that. There will be a day when what's ahead of me is not baseball, and I'm going to try to embrace that. Until you get to that point, you do everything you can to continue to adjust."
Halladay is entering the final season of his three-year, $60 million contract extension with the Phillies. He has an option that automatically vests if he throws 225 innings this season, plus 415 innings combined in 2012-13, plus not finishing the season on the disabled list. But the 415 innings are almost certainly unattainable because of the time Halladay missed last season. He would need to pitch 258 2/3 innings this season to hit that mark. He hasn't pitched that much since he threw a career-high 266 innings in 2003, when he was 26.
So this could be Halladay's final season with the Phils.
"I think all our dialogue right now has been, 'How do we get things going in the right direction?'" said Halladay, when asked if he has talked with the Phillies about a contract extension. "Really, that was my concern. I know it was their concern, and I'm not at all worried about next season. I really am not. I'm worried about this year and making the most of this year, and then you go from there. But there has been no dialogue, and I don't expect there to be dialogue. I expect to prepare to go out and do my job and let everything else take care of itself.
"I really don't [envision myself pitching anywhere]. If I had my druthers, I would be here until I'm done. As good as they've been to me, I think they realize I'd be as good to them as I could be. Going forward, I really don't see myself playing anywhere else. And I don't want to play anywhere else. This has been the best place I've ever played."
Halladay hopes he finishes on a good note. He indicated Wednesday he believes he can.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.