Eager to help pitchers blossom physically and mentally, Roy Halladay returns to Phillies

Eager to help pitchers blossom physically and mentally, Roy Halladay returns to Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It was former major-league pitcher Jim Bouton who once said, "You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end, it turns out that it was the other way around all the time."

Roy Halladay is the latest embodiment of that bit of insight.

"I definitely want to get back in," the two-time Cy Young award winner said.

He is back.

Two months shy of his 40th birthday, Halladay put on a uniform Tuesday morning and began a stint as a guest instructor in Phillies camp. The appointment is likely a precursor of a more lasting role with club, likely a position where he works with pitchers on developing their physical and mental skills. Halladay was a disciple of the late Harvey Dorfman, a pioneering sports psychologist, and has recently studied the subject at the University of South Florida.

"That's something that's really being addressed, almost through every organization now to some degree," Halladay said. "I think it's awesome. I think it's such a huge part of the game."

The Phillies do, too. Over the winter, the team hired Geoff Miller as it's first mental-skills coach.

It has been 3½ years since Halladay's right shoulder gave out and he walked off the field in Miami, ending a career that could land him in the Hall of Fame someday.

Halladay might have walked away from big-league competition after 390 starts, 203 wins, a perfect game, a postseason no-hitter and a pair of Cy Young awards, but he did not walk away from the game.

The grip is too strong.

He has coached his two sons, Braden, 16, and Ryan, 12, as they've climbed the youth ranks, and now serves as the pitching coach at Calvary Christian High School, just a mile east of the Phillies' spring training complex. Braden is a sophomore pitcher on that team.

"It's been awesome," Halladay said. "They have six Division I commits."

When Halladay came to the Phillies from Toronto after the 2009 season, he was already one of the best pitchers in baseball. He'd risen to that distinction despite struggling to find consistency with his changeup. Upon arriving in Philadelphia, Halladay learned a new grip for the pitch from former Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee. With the help of Dubee's two-seam split-grip changeup, Halladay became even better in Philadelphia.

He now teaches that pitch to his pupils at Calvary Christian.

"I haven't taught any cutters yet," Halladay said with a laugh. "I'm stealing Dubee's trick, I'm teaching everybody changeups.

"I tell you what, it's one of the easiest for young kids to be able to throw. It's not that complicated, it's an easy grip. And they usually get decent results out of it. I've got to thank Dubee for that. The parents are thanking me."

This summer, Halladay will visit Cooperstown, New York, where son Ryan's team will play in a tournament. Halladay, of course, could be right back there someday as a member of the Hall of Fame. He will be eligible for the class of 2019.

"It would obviously be a tremendous honor," he said. "I don't know that I think about it, honestly. You see guys get in that are deserving, and you see guys that are possibly deserving that don't get in. Boy, it's a tough thing to figure out. But absolutely I would love to be there. I think every player who ever played the game would love to be there. It's just hope for the best."

Away from baseball, Halladay has logged 800 hours as an airplane pilot.

"I got my instrument rating, my multi-engine rating and I'm working on my commercial rating," he said. "So, I'm trying to progress through it. I'd like to be able to instruct so I can teach my boys."

As Halladay returns to the pro game, he'll spend a lot of time with his eyes and ears open. He watched Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Alberto Tirado throw to hitters on Tuesday. He will keep watching on Wednesday and when he decides to speak up you can bet he'll have something valuable to offer, something that could help a pitcher physically or mentally.

"More than anything I just want to get to know these guys, and any way I can help I'll be happy to," Halladay said. "If they have any concerns or want to talk about things that helped me be successful -- I can cover a range of things. For me, it's just a pleasure to be able to help out."

MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs

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MLB Playoffs: Justin Turner hits walk-off HR to give Dodgers 2-0 lead over Cubs


LOS ANGELES -- Justin Turner hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Sunday to take a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

The red-bearded slugger connected on the 29th anniversary of the Dodgers' last game-ending postseason homer: Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit drive to beat Oakland in the 1988 World Series opener.

"One of my earliest baseball memories, I was 4 years old at my grandma's house watching that game in `88 and seeing Gibby hit that homer," a smiling Turner said. "So yeah, it feels pretty cool. I thought about doing the fist pump around the bases, but we'll wait until we get to the World Series for that, hopefully."

Turner drove in every run for Los Angeles, going the other way for a tying single in the fifth before sending a long shot to center field off John Lackey in the ninth. A fan wearing a blue Dodgers jersey reached over a railing to catch the ball on the fly.

Turner's second homer of the postseason ended another dramatic night for the Dodgers, who remained unbeaten in these playoffs and moved within two wins of their first World Series appearance since 1988.

"It's very cool, and J.T., we were talking about it in there after the game," manager Dave Roberts said. "Twenty-nine years to the day. It was special. Our guys feel it."

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Midseason acquisition Yu Darvish starts for the Dodgers against Kyle Hendricks.

Yasiel Puig drew his third walk of the game leading off the ninth, and Charlie Culberson bunted him to second. After losing pitcher Brian Duensing struck out pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Chicago manager Joe Maddon went to the bullpen for the 38-year-old Lackey, who pitched on consecutive days for the first time in his 15-year career.

Lackey got the call over All-Star closer Wade Davis, and the veteran starter walked Chris Taylor on six tense pitches.

Turner stepped up and ended it with his fourth career playoff homer. He's been at his best in October, batting .377 with 22 RBIs in the postseason.

"We've been doing it all year long," Turner said. "We're never out of a game. As long as we have outs left, we're going to keep fighting."

Completing the poetry of the moment, a fan in a Chase Utley jersey in the center-field bleachers caught the ball in his glove.

Addison Russell homered in the fifth for the Cubs, who are down early in this rematch of the 2016 NLCS. Chicago won that series in six games and went on to its first World Series championship since 1908, while the Dodgers have been absent from the Fall Classic since 1988.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen got the victory with a hitless ninth despite hitting Anthony Rizzo on the hand with a one-out pitch. That ended the Los Angeles bullpen's impressive streak of 22 straight Cubs retired to begin the NLCS, but the Dodgers have thrown eight hitless and scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS.

After a collective offensive effort drove the Dodgers to a 5-2 win in Game 1, Turner did it all in Game 2. He has 10 RBIs in the Dodgers' five postseason games, getting five in the playoff opener against Arizona.

Jon Lester yielded three hits and five walks while failing to get out of the fifth inning in the shortest start of his long postseason career, but the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of a rare shaky night by the Cubs' star left-hander.

Rich Hill struck out eight in five more impressive innings for the Dodgers, but he was pulled for pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson in the fifth in a debatable decision by Roberts.

Russell was off to a 4-for-22 start in the postseason with nine strikeouts before the slugging shortstop put a leadoff homer into the short porch in left field.

Turner evened it moments later by poking a single to right after a leadoff double by Culberson, the Dodgers' improbably successful replacement for injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager.

The Dodgers chased Lester with two outs in the fifth, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. came through after several recent postseason struggles, striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley and then pitching a strong sixth.

Lester was the co-MVP of last season's NLCS, winning Game 5 at Dodger Stadium and yielding two runs over 13 innings in the series. He had nothing near the same success against the Dodgers' revamped lineup in this one, issuing four walks in the first four innings and repeatedly escaping jams.

Dodgers third base coach Chris Woodward held up Turner in the third when it appeared he could have scored from first on Cody Bellinger's double to the gap.

Javier Baez, the other co-MVP of last season's NLCS for Chicago, got to third base in the third with one out but also was stranded.

Up next
Cubs: Hendricks dominated Chicago's playoff opener with seven scoreless innings against the Nationals, but yielded four runs in four innings during the team's wild Game 5 victory in Washington. He is starting on normal rest.

Dodgers: Darvish was outstanding in Game 3 against the Diamondbacks, earning his first career postseason victory with seven strikeouts over five innings of two-hit ball. He was acquired 

MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

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MLB Playoffs: Altuve's dash lifts Verlander, Astros over Yanks in Game 2

HOUSTON — Jose Altuve raced home on Carlos Correa's double in the ninth inning, Justin Verlander struck out 13 in a complete game and the Houston Astros beat the New York Yankees 2-1 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Correa also homered, but Houston needed a daring dash from Altuve to get Verlander a win. The 5-foot-6 AL MVP front-runner reached with a one-out single against closer Aroldis Chapman , then sprinted around from first base on Correa's shot to right-center field, sliding past catcher Gary Sanchez as he misplayed a short-hop. Altuve had two more hits and is 13 for 23 (.565) this postseason.

Verlander pitched another gem for the Astros, setting a postseason career best for strikeouts and allowing five hits in his second career complete game in the postseason. He threw a season-high 124 pitches and retired baby Bronx Bombers Aaron Judge, Sanchez and Greg Bird in the top of the ninth.

In the bottom of the inning, Judge picked up Correa's hit in right field and threw toward second base. Shortstop Didi Gregorius fielded there, and his throw beat Altuve to the plate by a few steps. But Sanchez bobbled the one-hop as Altuve slid by, and the Astros mobbed Correa in shallow center field. Altuve pointed toward Correa and his teammates from behind the plate (see full recap).

Puig, Taylor power Dodgers past Cubs in NLCS Game 1
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth inning, Yasiel Puig added a homer and an RBI double to his dynamite postseason, and the Los Angeles Dodgers overcame a short start by Clayton Kershaw for a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night in the NL Championship Series opener.

Charlie Culberson doubled, drove in the tying run and scored another while replacing injured All-Star shortstop Corey Seager for the resourceful Dodgers, who improved to 4-0 in this postseason.

With another collective offensive effort and four innings of perfect relief pitching, Los Angeles calmly overcame an early two-run deficit and took the first game of this rematch of the 2016 NLCS, won in six games by Chicago on the way to its first World Series championship in 108 years.

Game 2 is Sunday, with Rich Hill starting at home against Chicago's Jon Lester (see full recap).