Roy Halladay took a huge step forward in his injury recovery process by throwing off the mound Sunday for the first time since he had the surgery earlier this season to correct a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Halladay threw just 20 pitches, all fastballs, but pitching coach Rich Dubee seemed pleased with the result.
Halladay, who had been struggling this season for the Philadelphia Phillies, is 36 years old and in the final year of his contract. The vesting option, which was based off of innings pitched, is not going to be met, and therefore, the two-time Cy Young award winning pitcher is going to be a free agent.
In short, this means that the Phillies are going to have some really tough decisions to make regarding Halladay’s future with the team. Decisions that could in part be driven based upon what the team sees from Halladay in terms of his post-surgery pitching abilities.
In fact, with nothing concrete to go off of other than a few doctors’ observations that Halladay could go back to pitching the way he did back in 2010 when he won the NL Cy Young, any sort of physical proof from the ace would go a long way.
Halladay has stated his intent of wanting to stay with the team, but will the Phillies be ready to take a risk on re-signing him, especially if he doesn’t pitch again in 2013?
For a guy like Halladay, you would think there should be a show of good faith there. After all, in his first two seasons with the Phillies, Halladay pitched incredibly, and he was easily the best of the staff. He showed dominance, precision and everything that, over the years, made him one of the best pitchers in the game.
However, the Phillies have suffered in recent years by giving reward contracts, namely to Ryan Howard, who too is currently on the DL. If the team did opt to re-sign Halladay, it would have to be on a one- or two-year deal at the max. At this point, it doesn’t seem the money is such an issue but the years.
Just like he did after he was demoted to the minors earlier in his career, Halladay is going to have to once again prove his ability to be an effective pitcher at the major league level. And while Phillies fans would probably love it to be here, it really could all come down to the rest of this season.
Because if Halladay doesn’t pitch again in a game, it would seem very unlikely that the Phillies would be willing to take a chance on the aging and possibly declining ace.