Halladay's 'Robot' mode

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:32 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA — Sitting in front of a microphone looking at five TV cameras and 30 dandelions of North American journalism, the robot made an admission:

He is a robot.

“You can’t have feelings on the mound,” Roy Halladay said, “you have to think of yourself as a robot. I remember when Jack Morris would have a good game he’d say he was like a pitching machine out there.”

Halladay was speaking in the bowels of Citizens Bank Park, far away from the riots in his old adopted home, 14 hours after he finished seven scoreless innings in a 9-0 win over his former team, the Blue Jays.

The Jays had been his only organization since draft day in 1995. On Friday, he had faced Vernon Wells who started in centre behind Halladay in September of 1999.

He faced second baseman Aaron Hill, who played behind him for five years and Lyle Overbay, who played first base for four seasons.

Halladay faced pals and ex-teammates as if seeing a team he’d watched only video of, in a detached, robotic fashion.

“It’s somewhat my mantra,” Halladay said, “you have to focus on your job — not your feelings. It’s the first time I’ve ever faced former teammates before but it’s not the first time I’ve had to push feelings to the side.

“One time it might be fear. One time it might be excitement.”

Halladay does an excellent job of departmentalizing feelings. As his guru Fred Dorfman pointed out in the ABC’s of pitching “never let the other team know what you are feeling.”

Poker-faced Halladay wouldn’t be the type to play cards held above the table for others to see.

“I was noticed on the street in Toronto,” Halladay said. “It was mostly: ‘Hi, how are you?’ Here it’s: ‘Hi can you sign this? Can you have your picture taken?’

“The difference in the two cities is that (the Phillies) have had more success recently. I’m sure it would have been the same in Toronto in the mid ’90s.

“I’m sure everyone in Toronto knew and recognized Joe Carter ... everyone in Philadelphia too.”

Regrets from his Jays days?

“We had good teams, the only regret I have is that I never pitched in a post-season or World Series game,” Halladay said. “Our teams were good, but we never got to the next level. I knew they had good pitching over there. With Vernon, it was only a matter of time. The only thing I guess that surprises me is Jose Bautista having 20 home runs.”

Halladay was asked about 2009 when he was the subject of daily trade talk leading up to the June 31 deadline for trading without waivers.

“It was a lot to think about and took its toll,” Halladay said. “You hate to come to the park and answer the same questions every day. I’m sure my teammates felt the same way.”

The Jays and the Phillies knocked heads regularly each spring, including one game in 2003. Phillies manager Larry Bowa yelled at Halladay, the benches cleared and Bowa was ejected at Jack Russell Stadium.

Halladay had hit Jim Thome, who had signed a signed a six-year, $85-million US deal, in the left arm with fastball in the third.

Halladay led off the fourth, against lefty reliever Rheal Cormier, whose first pitch was inside. The second pitch was so inside catcher Todd Pratt couldn’t catch it. While Halladay wasn’t hit, plate ump Eric Cooper issued a warning to Cormier.

Bowa came out to argue with Cooper, yelled at Halladay and Halladay yelled back. On-deck hitter Orlando Hudson rushed out and the benches emptied.

“I told him: ‘Your control’s not that bad,’ “ Bowa said. “I don’t like to see anyone get hit.”

Who would have thought that day Phillies fans would some day rise as one to cheer Halladay took the mound?

bob.elliott@sunmedia.ca


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