07/16/08 12:05 AM ET
Halladay thrilled to be backed by stars
Right-hander enjoys seeing Ichiro throw out Pujols at second
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
As Ichiro Suzuki made his way into the home dugout from right field in the middle of the fourth inning of Tuesday's All-Star Game, Halladay gave him a good pat, a thank you and a brief conversation.
"You can't say much to Ichiro," Halladay said afterwards with a smile.
He didn't need to say much. The highlight of watching Ichiro show off his mighty right arm to throw out Albert Pujols trying to stretch out a double was plenty.
"He's a great guy," Halladay said. "You have players of that caliber behind you making plays like that, it's exciting. You don't want to make it too boring, so it's nice to have those plays behind you."
In Halladay's case, it made his outing unusually quiet.
Although this marked Halladay's fifth career All-Star selection, he had pitched in just two previous Midsummer Classics. And in both the 2002 and '06 games, he gave up at least one run and multiple hits.
Pujols was the one hit Halladay allowed this time, but that was it for the damage. Thanks in no small part to Suzuki's throw, Halladay cruised through his inning, retiring Lance Berkman before Pujols was thrown out. A first-pitch groundout from Chipper Jones ended Halladay's outing with just nine pitches.
"You never know who you're going to face," Halladay said. "You get any of those guys on teams like this, and they're guys that are hitting in the middle of any lineup. So it's always a challenge. I got a good play behind me and [it] helped me get out of there quick. It was fun. It was a good experience."
Before the game, he talked about comparing All-Star Games to a side session between starts and trying to get through in as few pitches as he could. If this were his regular between-starts work, he would've needed to throw extra pitches later.
"No," he said with a chuckle, "I got my fill."
It helped ease what is always a tough transition for him as a starter to pitch an inning of relief, especially on a stage such as this.
"It's completely different," Halladay said. "The hard thing is knowing what it takes to get ready. I just tried to get down and make it as normal as I could, but it's always different. You get out of your comfort zone a little bit."
For an ace pitcher on a team that visits Yankee Stadium three times a season, it was a little different simply being in the home clubhouse as opposed to the visitors' one. He tried to feel at home as much as he could in Yankee Stadium, where he has had plenty of tough battles in a Toronto uniform in the regular season. Being in a situation surrounded by stars certainly helped.
"It's a lot different," he said beforehand. "You come here and you try to enjoy this experience. You come here as a visiting player and it's not as much fun. It's definitely a lot different. It's definitely a tough place to come play, so to be coming here for something else that's fun, you enjoy it."
Halladay certainly did. The one regret he might've had was not having a chance to chat with one particular legend he hoped to meet as the Hall of Famers gathered.
"Obviously Cal [Ripken Jr.], I'm a big fan of, but Whitey Ford is a guy that I read about growing up," Halladay said. "Just to be able to see him was cool for me. It's neat to have that many guys come back, that many Hall of Famers. It's pretty special. I don't think I'll see something like that again."
Seeing Suzuki make his throw might've been even better, even if Halladay couldn't chat much with him.
"The guys behind you have always stood out to me," Halladay said. "That's kind of the special part of games like this. It's definitely a great experience, especially being here."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.