Roy Halladay fails to make it four innings in first start

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Roy Halladay struck out nine Atlanta batters Wednesday in his first start of the regular season. But everything else about the outing was hideous.

Halladay threw only 55 of his 95 pitches for strikes, yielding five earned runs on six hits and three walks before getting pulled with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. His fastball touched 91-92 mph on occasion — which was a positive sign — but it didn’t have the kind of movement or bite that it usually does and he relied primarily on his breaking stuff.

Halladay posted an ugly 6.06 ERA, 1.84 WHIP and 16/9 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings this spring while struggling to build his fastball velocity. The 35-year-old is owed $20 million this season and carries a $20 million vesting option for 2014.

The Braves (now 2-0) defeated the Phillies (now 0-2) by a score of 9-2.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.