Halladay lasted just two innings in Sunday's start, leaving with what the team originally called shoulder soreness. He reportedly felt discomfort in his prior start last Tuesday but managed to pitch through it. By Sunday that was no longer something he could do, hence the follow-up tests and ultimate DL assignment.
Despite a solid start to the 2012 season, Halladay has not been very Halladay-like in the month of May. A blown six-run lead on May 2 and a string of subsequent subpar performances had many wondering if something was amiss even before this abbreviated outing. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the lack of consistency in Halladay's pitching was more at issue than the slight drop in his velocity. "He is just not completing his delivery as he has in the past for whatever reason," Dubee said.
Still, Halladay's velocity is down compared to 2011. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Halladay averaged 91.7 mph on his fastball in 2011; in 2012, it is down to an average of 90.7 mph. Perhaps more interesting is that Halladay has actually decreased the reliance on his fastball this year (down 23 percent in terms of types of pitches thrown from 2011) and increased the usage of his cutter (up 17 percent when compared to last year). Combine that with the 1.6 mph drop in velocity on Halladay's cutter and some perceived location changes, and now his most commonly thrown pitch is one that seems to be easier for opposing batters to hit. While there is no way to definitively link the drop in velocity or change in pitch type to Halladay's current shoulder woes, it is certainly interesting to consider since other pitchers have at times exhibited similar fluctuations before yielding to injury. It's worth noting that there were rumblings during spring training about the health of Halladay's arm when he appeared to struggle at times.
After Sunday's game, Halladay offered up his rationale as to why he did not think the shoulder issue to be serious. According to CSNPhilly.com, Halladay said, "I really don't anticipate there being something in there that is shocking," he said. "I think if that were the case, it would have been something I felt more often and probably be a lot more severe." While the results were not "shocking," they certainly merit some concern. Latissimus dorsi, or "lat" strains, as they are commonly called, can prove finicky for both pitchers and hitters in terms of recovery time. The lat is very involved throughout the throwing motion, and although it is not a member of the group of muscles that form the rotator cuff, it is critical for normal function. Like most muscle strains, treatment requires a combination of rest and rehabilitation with a gradual return to activity in the hopes of avoiding aggravation. Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock says Halladay will be shut down for a minimum of three weeks -- meaning no throwing whatsoever -- then will gradually work his way back to the mound. The general timetable suggests Halladay will not return until after the All-Star break.
Halladay has experience with shoulder pain, although it's been quite some time -- eight years, in fact -- since he was sidelined as a result. In 2004, Halladay spent two separate stints on the DL because of shoulder pain but insists he is "smarter now," and he had hopes this would simply be a case of allowing the shoulder to quiet down without a big interruption. While Halladay might not want to acknowledge it, now that he is 35 his shoulder has accumulated significantly more pitching mileage since the last time it ailed him. Despite his best efforts at warding off trouble over his career, this may be a signal that the cumulative trauma of the job is beginning to catch up with him.
Weaver lands on DL
Within one calendar month, Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, delivering a no-hitter on May 2 and then forced off the mound due to injury on May 28. The Angels indicated immediately after the game that Weaver had a lower-back injury, and he underwent further testing, including X-rays and an MRI on Tuesday.
Late Tuesday, the Angels officially placed Weaver on the DL with "inflammation near [a] disc," according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. That Weaver had lingering severe pain hours after he left the mound hinted early on that this was more than a minor spasm. According to the Angels' website, Weaver's pain was in his lower right side, a pain he described as feeling like somebody stabbed him. After the game, Weaver was clearly still limited, telling reporters, "I can't really bend over too much." The inability to bend forward is a hallmark sign of a disc problem, so the news is not altogether surprising. Perhaps more surprising for anyone who has seen the unique delivery of the 6-foot-7 hurler is that he has not had more problems with his back in the past. Weaver's only other DL stint before Tuesday was related to biceps tendinitis back in 2007.
Weaver is hopeful that he will only miss the minimum time, but back problems are very unpredictable. Just ask Roy Oswalt, who, incidentally, just signed with the Texas Rangers. For now, Weaver's status is in the wait-and-see department.
Pedroia waiting for more news on thumb
Boston Red Sox All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia is out of the lineup Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers after jamming his right thumb Monday. Pedroia appeared to injure his thumb while making a diving play to field a ball in the fifth inning and did not return for the sixth. It turns out the original injury happened long before that diving play; three weeks before to be exact. According to ESPNBoston's Joe McDonald, manager Bobby Valentine explained that Pedroia then aggravated the already sore thumb in his final at-bat Monday. After Monday's game, Valentine indicated Pedroia had swelling in the thumb and predicted he would miss at least Tuesday's game. While it sounded initially as if the Sox did not believe the injury to be particularly serious, Pedroia was scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday. The results have not yet been reported and it is unclear whether Pedroia will miss more time.
Addendum (May 30): The results of Pedroia's MRI revealed a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb, according to Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. The medical staff will attempt to craft a brace to pad the area and support the thumb while still allowing Pedroia to play with the injury. If that doesn't work, Pedroia will be forced to the DL, and he could miss several weeks. For more details, check out Gordon Edes' piece on ESPNBoston.com.