07/15/09 2:29 AM ET
Amid buzz, Halladay, Hill enjoy Classic
Ace's future a hot topic; mixed on-field results for Jays duo
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Hours before Halladay was to throw the American League's first pitch in the 80th Midsummer Classic, the right-hander faced a scrum of reporters at his locker and spoke about how he might not be representing the Toronto Blue Jays for much longer.
"It's definitely different," Halladay said. "I can't really say that I anticipated it working out this way. I guess just the timing of the [All-Star Game] claims the perfect storm. It's tough, and it wouldn't be tough if I didn't like Toronto and my teammates. That part of it really pulls at your heartstrings."
Coveted in potential trade talks around the league, Halladay allowed three runs in his two innings of work for the Junior Circuit, leaving trailing, 3-2, after completing his 35-pitch workload. Halladay set down the National League in the first inning before allowing three runs in the second.
"I think the hardest part is that you have a bunch of guys that you've never seen," Halladay said. "You're not quite sure what to do, but I had a lot of fun. For the most part, I felt good. In games like this, you want to go out and you want to be aggressive. If you get hit, it's because you're throwing strikes and making guys swing the bat. I think that's what it's all about."
With two outs, David Wright singled on a broken-bat popup and Shane Victorino singled to right, before Yadier Molina brought in two runs with a single to center, a play that included a throwing error by center fielder Josh Hamilton.
Prince Fielder drove in the third run with a pinch-hit, ground-rule double to left off Halladay, who allowed four hits without a walk or a strikeout. Halladay also had to bat, working a seven-pitch plate appearance against Tim Lincecum in the second inning before striking out looking -- while wearing a helmet with no logo, borrowed from Evan Longoria of the Rays.
"Regardless of results, I think when you go away from these things, you take the overall experience," Halladay said. "For me, it's always been fun. You love coming, and there's just so many bits and pieces of it that you'll remember for the rest of your life."
Aaron Hill stepped in at second base for the American League's elected starter, Dustin Pedroia, who had to forgo the All-Star Game for family reasons. Before making his first All-Star appearance, Hill said that he was looking forward to playing behind Halladay.
"That'll be nice," Hill said. "I'm going to get some pictures with him, and for me to be out there behind him, it'll feel more comfortable for him. I know I'll get some ground balls and I'll just be ready for them."
He was ready for the first one, a rocket to second base hit by NL leadoff hitter Hanley Ramirez, and two more that rolled their way through the infield for routine putouts.
|"Obviously, making an All-Star team is something that doesn't happen all that often, but being able to start one is pretty special. It's something I'm glad I could share with my kids and I'm glad to be a part of it."|
|-- Roy Halladay|
At the plate, Hill grounded out to shortstop Ramirez twice -- retired in the second inning by Lincecum and in the fourth by the D-backs' Dan Haren -- and flied out in the seventh against Francisco Cordero.
Hill became the second Toronto player to start an All-Star Game at second base, joining Roberto Alomar (1991-94), and said that he was taken aback by the entire experience.
"Where do you start? Look around this locker room and some of the name plates," Hill said. "I brought my camera and got a lot of good pictures. Everyone tells you to take it all in and enjoy the moment. That's just what I'm trying to do."
Halladay has spoken this week about how he wants a chance to pitch for a team that will contend in October, and after Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi let it be known that he will listen to offers on his ace, Halladay estimated the odds at "50-50" that he will be traded during the regular season.
Since Halladay owns a no-trade clause, he is essentially afforded the luxury to work with Ricciardi to pick and choose his next destination -- if there is to be one. But while Halladay expects Ricciardi to keep him in the loop, he declined to weigh one potential trade partner against another out of respect for the Blue Jays.
"It's hard for me to really pick places at this point," Halladay said. "It's hard to stress that I do like Toronto and I would prefer to win there. Keeping that in mind, it's hard for me to start naming names of where I think would be ideal -- especially at this point, it's so early and so far out of my hands, it's tough to go that far."
Various reports have mentioned the Phillies, Cardinals and Angels among the teams who could have interest in trading for Halladay. His uncertain future has been a topic of much discussion this week in St. Louis, but Halladay said he was proud to have the opportunity to represent the Blue Jays.
"It's a special feeling when you come here and you know you're going to pitch, but when you go out starting, it's a great honor," Halladay said. "Obviously, making an All-Star team is something that doesn't happen all that often, but being able to start one is pretty special. It's something I'm glad I could share with my kids and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.