Doc's face of stone

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- So, what was it like the day Roy Halladay, usually stone-faced enough to resemble a Mount Rushmore carving, walked into the Philadelphia Phillies clubhouse May 29 in Miami?

Halladay, who almost pitched a no-hitter in his second start in 1998, had just thrown a perfect game in his 320th career start beating the Florida Marlins 1-0.

"He was the same as always, but he did crack a smile ... a little one," starter Kyle Kendrick said jokingly Tuesday in the Phillies clubhouse.

Kendrick followed Halladay's spring routine of arriving at 5:30 a.m. to work out, did the same routine and went jogging with Halladay so often this spring, some Phillies nicknamed him "Little Roy."

Perfect-game highlights showed Halladay smiling broadly when Ronny Paulino bounced to shortstop Wilson Valdez, who threw to first for the final out and then hugging catcher Carlos Ruiz and first baseman Ryan Howard.

"We gave him a standing ovation when he entered the clubhouse," centre fielder Shane Victorino said. "He spoke for a few minutes. What a guy. Here's what he said, 'I'd like to thank Carlos Ruiz for putting down the right fingers and getting me through that.'

"He pitches the 20th perfect game in history and directs the compliments to his catcher. That says it all for me."

Halladay won his next start against the San Diego Padres, lost three straight to the Marlins, the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, allowing 10 runs, while the Phillies scored four times.

The Blue Jays will see for real how perfect or imperfect Halladay is, and how bad the Phillies offence (10th in team average) when Jesse Litsch faces Halladay Friday at Citizens Bank Park in the opener of the G-20 Summit.

The Jays will see Halladay who owns an 8-6 record and a 2.43 earned-run average. A year ago after 15 starts he was 10-2 with a 2.56 ERA.

"No way he should have six losses," Victorino said. "He's not a guy who looks at that stuff. The way we're hitting, basically he has to pitch a shutout to win."

And Halladay has two, the El Perfecto and a May blanking of the New York Mets. In all, the Phillies have scored 12 runs in Halladay's six losses.

"Everything that has been written about him -- work ethic, preparation, it's all true," Victorino said.

"I texted my mother and father after the Marlins game and told them I had played in an all-star game, played in a World Series and won a World Series .... but I've never been as nervous as I was that day.

"For one of the first times ever, I didn't want the ball hit to me, I didn't want to make a mistake."

And to open the ninth, Mike Lamb hit a ball to deep centre which Victorino tracked, caught and breathed a sigh of relief.

"I don't think he had many pitches over the white of the plate that day," said pitching coach Rich Dubee of Halladay.

"He had command of all his pitches and spent the day living on the black."

Old Stone Face was supposed to face the Jays Saturday, but the Phillies will keep Halladay on regular rest and have him pitch Friday to get him as many starts as possible before the all-star break.

Lefty Cole Hamels move to Saturday.

Victorino agrees with the stone-face description of Halladay.

"He's stone faced, but not because he's a jerk, because he's concentrating," Victorino said.

Kendrick admitted keeping up -- and getting up with Halladay -- was a difficult.

"It was tough," Kendrick said.

"I'm not used to getting up that early. I've learned a lot from him about work ethic and the way he's so locked-in every day."

For the first since maybe the 1974 Yankees played their home games at Shea Stadium, a DH will be used in a National League park this weekend when the Jays come to town.

And for the first time the Jays will face their No. 1 pick from 1995 -- Harry Leroy Halladay.

BOB.ELLIOTT@SUNMEDIA.CA


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