Doc: A wonder to behold

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Opening-day starts are old hat to Roy Halladay but, when he toes the rubber Monday afternoon in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform here against the Washington Nationals, it will mark his first step in what he hopes will finally lead to an October Odyssey.

“That’s the one thing missing,” Halladay said recently of having never pitched in the post-season in his entire Blue Jays career. “These guys have been to the World Series the last two years. They know what it takes. I want to get there.”

Nationals Park will be filled with fans Monday, including U.S. President Barrack Obama, who will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. But not all will be there to cheer on Halladay, save for the Philly faithful who should be present in droves.

The majority of Nationals fans and baseball aficionados would have preferred to see the sport’s future ace, whiz kid Stephen Strasburg, on the mound challenging Halladay. But that dream matchup will have to wait for another day down the road.

This one, though, belongs to Halladay who has clearly stepped out of the shadows of the Blue Jays and into the limelight of the two-time defending National League champions.

It’s a big day for Halladay, a big day for the Phillies and a big day for their general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., who pulled the trigger on the deal with new Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.

The Phillies won the World Series two seasons ago, lost to the New York Yankees last year and this season are the prohibitive favourites to pull off a three-peat.

Halladay is expected to lead the way and, if Amaro has any doubts about the horse he acquired, it is that he will drive himself into the ground, that he may try too hard and send himself into a pitching tizzy.

But, to date, there have been no surprises for Amaro regarding his new ace.

“I kind of knew what his work ethic was like and what kind of person he was, just from the information I got from our scouts and people who were closer to him than I would be,” Amaro said on Sunday as his team held a workout.

“Nothing has really surprised me about him except that I get a little scared that he works too hard some times.

“I think what’s so great about him, and something that I like, is his dedication to his sport, dedication to his craft and his commitment to what he does every day. It’s kind of unparalleled. We have guys on our team that come close and are dedicated to what they’re doing, but the way he goes about it, the detail and the commitment he has, it’s pretty extraordinary.”

After 12 seasons with the Jays, Halladay is on a team of champions and you have to wonder if that factor will elevate his game a notch, if that’s possible.

“I don’t know, from what I’ve observed, I don’t know that he can elevate his game much more than where it’s already at,” Amaro said. “I think he demands a lot from himself and I don’t think that’s going to change dramatically.

“Hopefully we can give him the kind of support, not to help him relax, but just go about his business and not have to worry about carrying us. I hope he doesn’t feel that burden because I think we have a good supporting group overall.

“As long as Roy is just Roy, that would be fine.”

Like so many of the fans in Philly, Amaro is looking forward to the season, to witnessing what Halladay will ultimately accomplish.

“When you acquire a player of this calibre ... I don’t know if we’ve acquired a guy with this kind of pedigree ... but it will be exciting to watch him,” he said. “And I think he’ll be excited pitching for us.”

The fun is just about to start.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos