Righthander Roy Halladay is best known among Toronto teammates for his work ethic--in spring training, for example, he hosts an early-morning running program for pitchers, known as the Breakfast Club--but last year he felt his rigorous off-season conditioning habits and throwing program had worn him down. Fatigued for much of the regular season, Halladay made two trips to the disabled list with a sore right shoulder and limped to an 8--8 record with a 4.20 ERA.
Last winter Halladay scaled back. He started throwing two weeks later than usual, cut his bullpen sessions by two thirds and long-tossed instead, building up arm and shoulder strength. He saw immediate returns: After his first start this spring, Halladay said, "Everything's jumping out of my hand. Last year in these games, I don't remember feeling that I had a lot of life early on."
That energy has persisted, and Halladay has regained the form that won him the 2003 American League Cy Young Award. After giving up six hits in seven innings of a 6--2 win over the A's last Friday, he improved to 9--2 with a 2.45 ERA and led the majors in innings pitched (92) and complete games (four).
With better command of his fastball and cutter--he is walking one less batter per game than he did a year ago--Halladay has returned to his signature style: attacking and economical. His last seven starts, a stretch during which he was 6--1 with a 1.29 ERA, lasted an average of two hours, 16 minutes. New pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has also helped Halladay refine his changeup, which he'll show occasionally to diversify his repertoire.
SCOTT AUDETTE/AP (HALLADAY)
A fresher arm has meant a stronger arm for the rebounding Blue Jay.