Roy Halladay weaker but hopeful

Updated: March 19, 2013, 7:05 PM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Two days after having to leave a spring training start after one inning because of a stomach virus, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay was back in uniform Tuesday and said he hopes to make his next start Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Sitting at his locker, his face drawn and admittedly "a little bit weak and jittery," a noticeably thinner Halladay said he'd lost "maybe 10 pounds" just in the past two days. However, he said, he still hopes to throw a side session in the bullpen Wednesday, which would put him back on schedule to get two more spring starts and then pitch the second game of the season, April 3 in Atlanta.

Halladay
Halladay

Asked whether he thought he still had time to be ready for that April 3 start, Halladay said: "I think that if I continue to get stronger and stronger each day, I'll be fine. If I can go out there and throw 75 pitches my next start  ... and if I can get to 90 by the last start of the spring, I think I can get to 100, 105 [in his first start of the season], no problem."

The Phillies have kicked around the idea of pushing Halladay back a few days to give him extra time to regain his strength. But the 35-year-old right-hander said it's too early for that sort of talk.

"I'm sure there's a lot of options," he said, "but all of it's going to depend on [how I feel] day-to-day. If I come in tomorrow and feel weak and don't feel like I can throw a  bullpen, then that's going to change things."

Halladay said he first began to feel ill last Friday night but thought he'd be able to make it through his start on Sunday until he reached the mound, when his stomach started churning and he began to feel weak and woozy.

"I thought I was going to be able to do it," he said. "I've pitched sick before. But for some reason once that heartbeat got going, it just intensified everything that was going on out there."

His illness cut short what might have been the most scrutinized spring start of Halladay's career. In his previous start, he'd allowed seven runs, four walks, a hit batter and two home runs to the Detroit Tigers in just 2 2/3 innings, and his fastball was clocked at between 86 and 88 miles per hour.

Afterward, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel admitted he was "concerned" about his ace. And pitching coach Rich Dubee said Halladay was still struggling to adapt to adjustments he'd made to his delivery.

Asked Tuesday how he'd appraise the current state of his stuff and delivery, Halladay said he thought he'd made progress in a side session before his last start and was frustrated that he was able to pitch only one inning his next time out.

"That's the thing. I felt really good about it after my last bullpen and felt good about it after my warm-ups," he said. "So I really kind of wanted to see where it was at in the game. I got to see a little bit, but not quite as much as I wanted to. So I feel like it's there. I feel like I've made the strides I need to make. I just really haven't gotten to test it.

"So that was really kind of the most disappointing thing about it," he went on. "Like I told [general manager Ruben Amaro] that night, as sick as I felt on the mound, you almost feel worse because I didn't get to see the results that I wanted to see."

After an injury-plagued season last year in which he had problems with his back, lat muscle and shoulder, Halladay has adjusted his delivery this spring to try to take stress off his lower back. However, he has had a difficult time in his last several starts finding an arm slot he feels comfortable with and one that gives him enough movement and command to be effective.

Before he got sick, he said, "it felt like the arm slot we've been working on is there. So I feel like I'm going in the right direction. It's just a bad time for a setback."

After his start against the Tigers, Halladay also talked about feeling "lethargic" after a heavy between-starts workload and said he might have to cut back on his legendary workout schedule. He confirmed Tuesday that he'd implemented some changes before his last start.

"We made some [changes] after my last start and I felt pretty strong, especially in my bullpen," Halladay said. "I felt really strong. And then the last day or two before I pitched is kind of when it started kicking in a little bit. ... So yeah, I felt like the adjustments we've made and the things we've done different have helped."

Following his early exit Sunday, several scouts had tossed out conspiracy theories questioning whether Halladay was really ill or whether he might have exited because of an injury or ineffectiveness. But Halladay was so visibly weak and thinner Tuesday, he at least put those theories to rest.

"I think I'll be fine," he said. "I just haven't eaten anything. I couldn't really eat."

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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