Roy Halladay was back on the mound this afternoon for the first time since he was pulled from his start last Sunday after one inning due to a stomach virus. And the results weren’t all that encouraging.
In a minor league game against the Blue Jays, Halladay retired just seven out of the 18 batters he faced while allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman. Another batter reached on an error. Of the 82 pitches he threw, he got just three swings and misses. He reached 90 mph just once and mostly sat in the 87-89 mph range. Still, Halladay brushed it off by saying that he was happy with how his arm felt and that he wasn’t all that concerned with the results.
While Halladay isn’t going to overreact to a start against minor league competition, he did acknowledge that he’s in the process of making some adjustments since he isn’t throwing as hard as he once did. This includes making some changes to the grip on his trademark cutter. Via Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
“I don’t know of any guys who were throwing harder as they got older,” Halladay said after making a less than impressive minor-league start Saturday. “You’re always trying to evolve with the game and your body.
“To me, it’s a competition, not a boxing match. It’s not a strength-vs.-strength. It’s a chess match. It’s competition of the mind, and execution, and being smarter, and being more prepared. To me, that’s what I’ve enjoyed. That’s what I’ve liked about baseball.
“You look at a Jamie Moyer. He could compete with the best of them. He would’ve gotten knocked out in the first round if he was a boxer. It’s just a different mentality. It’s not about the strength and throwing harder and overpowering guys. It’s about outsmarting and being more prepared and being more consistent. That to me is a challenge.”
Halladay’s final spring tuneup will be next Thursday. While questions about his diminished stuff figure to linger well into the regular season, he expects to be ready to go against the Braves on April 3.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: