Halladay turns page on time in Toronto
Phils ace meets with former Jays teammates, manager
PHILADELPHIA -- Six months have gone by since the Blue Jays sent ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies in a trade that signaled the end of an era in Toronto's franchise history. The deal has been discussed and dissected to the point of fatigue for players on both sides.
For the Blue Jays, and for Halladay, there is only one thing left to say.
"Everybody likes to be able to kind of turn the page," Halladay said on Saturday.
That made this weekend a special one for Halladay and his former Toronto teammates, who exchanged handshakes and hugs around the batting cage prior to Saturday's game. One night earlier, there were no opportunities for reminiscing, as Halladay sent the Jays to a 9-0 loss behind seven stellar -- and very familiar -- innings.
That performance was evidence enough that Halladay -- once the face of the Blue Jays franchise -- was clearly the enemy now. This weekend was an opportunity to catch up for Halladay and the Jays, but also a time to wish each other well and continue to move on in their separate directions.
"It's fun to see those guys," Halladay said. "You just say, 'Hi,' and really, that's about it."
On Saturday morning, Halladay made a stop inside the visitors' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park to talk to his former trainer, and friend, George Poulis, as well as some of the Jays' coaches and manager Cito Gaston. When Halladay met with Gaston, the pitcher was presented with a gift.
On behalf of the Blue Jays, Gaston gave Halladay a ring and a pendant to commemorate the pitcher's 15 years spent in the Toronto organization. After being selected by the Jays in the first round of the 1995 First-Year Player Draft, Halladay won 148 games and captured the American League Cy Young Award in 2003 during his 12 years in Toronto.
"I got a chance to talk with him and shake his hand," Gaston said, "and certainly give him the ring and the pendant that we had for him. We were going to do that on the field at home, but it didn't work out."
|"My only regret is that we never won a playoff game or a World Series game."|
|-- Roy Halladay on his time in Toronto|
That was because the Blue Jays shifted the three-game weekend series to Philadelphia due to security concerns over the G-20 Summit being held in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday. Halladay said he was happy to pitch at his new home stadium from a baseball standpoint. From a personal standpoint, he was disappointed not to be back in Toronto.
"Being up there," Halladay said, "it would've probably set in a little more that this is where you spent so much of your career, in that stadium, in that city."
The Blue Jays traded Halladay to the Phillies in December in exchange for prospects Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michal Taylor, flipping Taylor to the A's for Brett Wallace as part of the complex deal. During Spring Training, the Jays -- led by young starter Shaun Marcum -- made it known that they were more than ready to move on.
While making it clear that they would still love to have Halladay on the team, some Jays players felt his absence could help the young pitchers begin to form their own identity as a group and as team leaders. Some players indicated that it could sometimes be intimidating to approach Halladay, who is known for his intense focus.
Halladay said he noticed.
"From a certain respect, I think a lot were hesitant," Halladay said. "That's the tough part of being somewhere so long. These guys are coming up while you're already there. You come over here and I'm just as new as some of the players over here, so in a lot of respects it's been different over here because you're new along with the other guys."
When he was younger, Halladay said he remembers being hesitant to talk to Jays pitcher Pat Hentgen.
"A lot of that is tough as a young player coming up through an organization," Halladay said. "I know it was tough for me, seeing Pat Hentgen. Everybody talks about these guys. The coaches preach about it and tell you how they do it, and that makes it tough sometimes. It builds a lot up and sometimes it makes it hard for you to approach those guys."
Halladay said there were players who did discuss pitching with him over the years, and he said he has been keeping tabs on how the Jays' staff has been performing with Marcum and Ricky Romero leading the way. One lesson Toronto's young pitchers always took from Halladay was how to try to remain extremely focused.
Asked if he could put his philosophy into words, he described it as a "mantra."
"You really have to focus on the job at hand," Halladay said, "and not what you're feeling, whether it's fear, excitement, you have to separate that. Really, the only way to do it is to do the best you can to think about what is my game plan, and how am I going to about it and think about executing pitches.
"That's, to me, the simplest way to do it. It's something you try to do all the time. Sometimes it's more important than others. You really can't have feelings while you're out there. You've almost got to think of yourself as a robot."
That is what Halladay did so well for more than a decade for the Blue Jays, and it is what he is now doing for the Phillies. That is the reality. Philadelphia now "feels like home" for Halladay and his family.
"My only regret is that we never won a playoff game or a World Series game," Halladay said of his years with the Blue Jays. "Obviously, I loved every minute of being up there. To me, that was the only thing that would've really finished it off for me."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.