8/20/2013 10:58 P.M. ET
Halladay takes another step in quest to return
Velocity down a few miles per hour, but right-hander feels strong
By Jed Weisberger / Special to MLB.com
LAKEWOOD, N.J. -- Rehabbing Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay feels he can see light at the end of the tunnel as far as returning to a big league mound.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner, who hasn't pitched for the Phils since May 5, threw 90 pitches -- 52 for strikes -- in a six-inning effort for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws of the South Atlantic League on Tuesday night. Halladay allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits and three walks and struck out four, and he didn't get a decision in the team's 3-2 win.
"I feel good," Halladay said after his outing. "I haven't had a lot of soreness the day after I pitch. I really think things are coming along well. I wanted to throw 100 pitches, but they had me scheduled for 90.
"When I get back is not in my control. It's their call, but I'm confident."
The 36-year-old Halladay, who won 51 games for the Phillies from 2010-12 but has been limited to 34 1/3 innings this season, underwent right shoulder surgery in May to remove a bone spur, repair a frayed labrum and fix a tear in his rotator cuff.
Halladay -- who has a 201-104 career record after he was drafted in the first round by the Blue Jays in 1995 and came to the Phillies in a trade in December 2009 for catcher Travis d'Arnaud, pitcher Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor -- has thrown 2,721 2/3 big league innings. He is 53-28 with the Phils.
Halladay left Tuesday's game between Lakewood and Hagerstown, Washington's Class A affiliate, tied at 2. Lakewood scored in the eighth to seal the win before 8,000 fans.
"I was happy with the way my pitches, especially my cutter, which is not an easy pitch for me, came along from the fourth inning on." Halladay said. "I was also happy with my changeup and sinker."
Halladay's sinking fastball hit 89 mph and averaged 87. His command got sharper as the evening went on, and his curve was recorded at 80 mph. As one might expect at this level of the Minor Leagues, Halladay's curve and cutter, which showed better break after the first inning, gave the Hagerstown hitters trouble. He's also confident he can pitch at the velocity he's presently at.
"A lot of bells go off when you drop below 92 or 90 [mph]," Halladay said. "The doctors tell me that's the last thing to come back. I feel three or four miles per hour will come back.
"My velocity has been slowly decreasing throughout my career. I am confident I can pitch at this velocity and still give my team a chance to win with my curve, sinker and split in the right location. My stamina tonight was a lot better than it was in my previous start [in the Gulf Coast League on Aug. 15]."
Hagerstown scored a run off Halladay in the second inning on a single by designated hitter Mike McQuillan and an RBI double by Estarlin Martinez. Hagerstown added an unearned run in the fifth when Pedro Severino singled, went to second on an error by Lakewood left fielder Larry Greene Jr., and scored on Stephen Perez's sacrifice fly when he kept running and Lakewood catcher Chace Numata failed to cover home.
Otherwise, Halladay worked his way through the Hagerstown lineup. The Suns took an aggressive approach toward the eight-time All-Star, swinging at just about anything that was in the strike zone and was not of the offspeed variety.
"I was able to do some things with the hitters because my cutter was working," Halladay said.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro had mentioned Halladay could return after two rehab starts. Where he pitches in five days is to be determined.
"I'm a lot more effective than I was before the surgery," Halladay said. "I have movement I didn't have before it. If I have this all back, except for a few clicks in velocity that could come back, I'm happy three months after surgery."
Halladay's future with Philadelphia is also up in the air. His contract has a $20 million vesting option for 2014, but that will not go into effect because he has not pitched 225 innings in 2013, or 415 over the past two seasons. If Halladay and the Phils are unable to come to terms, he will become a free agent. Halladay isn't the least bit concerned about that situation.
"I'm not playing for money at this point," he said. "I'm fortunate to have played a long time. If I have a situation where I can win, I might be paying them to play. We'll make that decision after the season."
Halladay was asked about the Phillies' recent managerial switch, with Ryne Sandberg replacing Charlie Manuel.
"As much as I loved Charlie, and will miss him, I think Ryne will do an excellent job," Halladay said.
Jed Weisberger is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.