Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Visit from Doc

Going into my first Spring Training the question that I got asked the most was, "Will you be able to see the Major League guys while you're there?" And honestly I had no clue. I wasn't sure how things would work and how separated we would be from the players on the big club. Leading up to today I've been able to see some of the big names here and there. Maybe catch a glimpse of Cole Hamels running in the morning, or see the pitchers taking batting practice on a distant field, or even watch a few pitches of Joe Blanton's bullpen before we stretch. Those few telescopic sightings I expected, but I did not expect what we were able to see today. Today we were lucky enough to get to see Roy Halladay up close and personal.

Today was Halladay's scheduled day to start and, since the Phillies had an off day and in order to keep him on a regular schedule, Halladay pitched in our AAA game at the minor league complex. This fact did not go unnoticed in our clubhouse, heck, it was even posted on our practice plan. "All non-throwing pitchers report to Ashburn field at 1pm to watch Roy Halladay" (which was spelled Halliday, and whoever was responsible for that should be fired). So the whole day, if you weren't playing in a game, was dedicated to watching the reigning Cy Young award winner. 

No, I did not take this picture. And, yes I would have been in trouble if I had taken my camera to the field to do so.
Access to Halladay couldn't have been better. I stood about three feet away from him as he warmed up in the bullpen before the game. And during the game I had a front row seat right behind home plate for all of his 80 pitches. If there was something to pick up on, something to notice about the way he went about his business I was in perfect position to see it. So what did I learn? What did I see? What does Halladay do that raises him above the rest? Well, nothing. And when I say nothing I don't really mean nothing, I mean nothing special. There are no secret tricks of the trade or any unique rituals that elevate his game. But, just because I didn't notice anything different doesn't mean I didn't learn anything. I think the biggest thing that I can take away from today is that you don't have to be a freak to be a big leaguer. I mean, we are talking about the best pitcher in the business and nothing he did today 75 % of the players in camp can't do right now. It is just that he does it consistently. He has worked his whole life honing his craft and perfecting it to enable him to perform at his best as often as possible. I've heard it many times in my life, "The difference between the major leagues and the minor leagues is consistency." I never quite understood it till today. 

So I come away from this experience more confident and motivated. I feel like there is no reason that some day I cannot become Roy Halladay. Am I naive to think that? Maybe. But I don't think so, and that's what counts.


  1. One of the highlights for me at spring training last year was watching Brad Lidge and JA Happ warm up side by side over at the Carpenter Complex and then both started minor league games right next to each other. It was fun to listen to catcher Tuffy Gosewisch warm up Happ and chattering like a little leaguer.

    I have a question: Does it upset the minor league guys that they lose innings to guys like Halladay?

    And the one thing everyone talked about last year regarding Halladay was that he got to the complex before 5 AM every day. I got there a couple days at 5:30 and he and Kendrick were already inside. So while there may not be any "tricks" you'll see on the baseball diamond there is, like you mentioned, a work ethic that I think is second-to-none.

  2. Extraordinary experiences and insights--thanks for sharing them.