Phillies

Roy Halladay taught Cole Hamels more than just the game

Roy Halladay taught Cole Hamels more than just the game

Cole Hamels looked up to Roy Halladay.

The 6-foot-6 frame, the unrivaled work ethic, the mastery of his craft.

Hamels saw it all.

But he also appreciated something else in Halladay.

Fatherhood.

As he marveled at the qualities of his old teammate and friend just hours after learning Halladay had died in a plane crash (see story), Hamels' voice grew shaky when family came to mind.

Halladay was a loving father of two sons, Ryan and Braden (see story).

And that's what Hamels admired, what he learned and what he aspires to be, just as much as emulating the machine on the mound. When remembering Halladay on the tragic Tuesday, Hamels thought of his own sons, Braxton and Caleb.

"Now, I have two boys of my own," Hamels said. "And I got to see what that meant to him every time he was able to bring them (Ryan and Braden) around the ballpark. That was something that really did leave an impression. Hopefully I'll be able to do what he was able to do for his boys."

Halladay, already established and revered as one of the game's best pitchers, came to the Phillies in 2010. Hamels was recovering from a disastrous season in which he went from 2008 World Series MVP to career lows and mental exhaustion in 2009.

Hamels, only 26 at the time, found a mentor in the 33-year-old "Doc."

Through example and experience, Halladay molded the skinny lefty from California.

He exemplified the importance of approach and preparation. Hamels even recalls watching Halladay's tendencies when the big righty was with the Toronto Blue Jays in spring training, before he ever joined the Phillies in that transformational 2010.

"In order to be great at something, you have to have mentors. You have to have great mentors, and he was one for me," Hamels said. "I watched from afar with being here and him being in Dunedin for the Blue Jays, we got to see him pitch. Seeing him pitch in spring training and then watching him during the season, he was the greatest of that decade. He was the greatest pitcher. You wanted to watch him, see how he attacked hitters, what was he doing different that everybody else wasn't, why was he so great?

"And then to finally play catch with him and see that he had a purpose. Behind everything that he did, he had a purpose. And I think you come to realize that you have very small, short moments in life to be able to do something great, so you have to maximize it, you have to make the best of it — and he did."

At times, Hamels felt like a kid watching in awe from the stands.

"A lot of us grew up watching Roy Halladay play. I was fortunate to be able to sit in the dugout and share a locker with him for some of the best years I've had," Hamels said. "He's really given me such a way to perceive and to look at baseball and to try to improve and be the best at what I do. He was a man of few words, but you just sat back and you just watched him, you watched what he did, his work ethic was second to none. I mean, you couldn't beat him to the ballpark, and if you did, you were going to lose from there on out. 

"You didn't miss those moments when he pitched. Baseball can be a long, grueling season, but when you had Roy Halladay on the mound, you didn't miss an inning, you didn't miss a pitch, you were watching every moment. And I know those are kind of the moments when you're playing this game and you look up in the stands, and there are people there to watch you and watch you perform — I was one of those people. I obviously had a closer seat and got to kind of talk to him a bit in between innings, but I was there to watch him perform. He raised my bar, he raised the game for me."

He was also influential in developing Hamels' new, difference-making two-seam fastball.

"There was always times when I would be throwing it and it wouldn't be working very well, and I'd ask him and he would just tell me where to put the fingers, the placement and then obviously where to envision where to release it," Hamels said. "He really did help me out with introducing that pitch."

Hamels and Halladay remained close once the latter retired in December 2013. Hamels said their families had vacationed together and he would frequently text with Halladay throughout the busy baseball season. And Hamels knew well of his buddy's passion for flying planes.

"Knowing that his father was a pilot, I think that was right there," Hamels said. "You look up to your dad always."

Hamels looked up to Halladay.

Not just the pitcher, but the father, too.

"We play this game and we love every minute of it, and then, it is over," Hamels said. "And then you get to go to your family and spend time with your family. To see that it's cut short for somebody that was such a good, good person, to him and his wife Brandy, it's hard to think about what's really going to transpire. He means a lot to all of us and we're really, really going to miss him."

Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

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AP Images

Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

The Phillies added four promising pitching prospects to their 40-man roster on Monday. In a corresponding move, they subtracted a notable name.

Right-handers Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Taveras and lefty Ranger Suarez were all added to the roster, protecting them from being selected by another club in next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Phillies also added an infielder, Engelb Vielma, to the roster. He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

To make room for these additions, the team needed to clear three spots on its roster, which had been at 38. Left-handed pitcher Elniery Garcia cleared waivers and was sent outright to the minor leagues while right-handers Alberto Tirado and Mark Appel were designated for assignment. The Phillies will try to trade Tirado and Appel before placing them on waivers. If they clear waivers, they could stay in the system.

The Phillies cut Appel loose after he'd struggled with injury and ineffectiveness during two seasons in the organization. The 26-year-old right-hander from Stanford University had twice been a first-round draft pick, by Pittsburgh in 2012 and by Houston — No. 1 overall — in 2013. The Phillies acquired him from the Astros as part of the package for Ken Giles in December 2015, but he never lived up to his huge potential.

"A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part. We think the world of the kid and wish him well. It was a tough decision."

Tirado, 22, was acquired from Toronto in July 2015 as part of the return for Ben Revere. He arrived with a fastball that could reach triple digits on the radar gun and that promise earned him a spot on the 40-man a year ago. Tirado suffered a shoulder injury early last season and struggled in the minors.

All four of the pitchers that the Phillies protected are products of the team's international scouting department. Taveras, 24, was a standout at three levels in the minors last season and could be in the picture in Philadelphia in 2018. He led the system in strikeouts in 2016 and 2017.

"He knows how to get guys out and often times that comes via the strikeout," Klentak said. "No matter where he pitches, he rises to the occasion and puts up a strong performance."

Kilome, 22, and Dominguez, 22, are both power arms who project to see significant time at Double A in 2018. Suarez, 22, should also get to Double A at some point in 2018. He had a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts at two levels of Single A ball in 2017.

"He may have been the breakout pitcher of the year for the Phillies," Klentak said. "We'd always heard a lot about him and this year he took his performance to another level.

"We're really excited for all four of these guys. All have worked extremely hard and they are all deserving of being added to our roster. Our international scouting operation, Sal Agostinelli and his group, continues to crank out players. They've done a great job. These four pitchers have earned this through their work ethic and performance. By no means is this the ultimate goal for them, but it's one step closer. We believe really strongly in the futures of these four pitchers."

Vielma, 23, is a top defensive shortstop who can also play second and third base. He was waived by Minnesota in September and claimed by the Giants, who let him go in a roster crunch.

"He's an intriguing claim," Klentak said. "He adds depth to our infield."

The Phillies’ roster is at 40. The team will have to clear space if it wants to add a player in next month's Rule 5 draft. Last November, the Phils added 11 players to the 40-man roster and still lost lefty reliever Hoby Milner to Cleveland. Milner failed to make the Indians' opening-day roster, returned to the organization in March and ended up making 37 appearances for the big club after coming up in late June. He was one of 12 rookies to make their big-league debut with the Phillies in 2017.

Notable players who were not protected include outfielders Carlos Tocci and Andrew Pullin and pitcher Brandon Leibrandt.

"One of the byproducts of a strong system is every year there are some tough omissions," Klentak said. "There are always tough calls. But we look at that as a good problem to have."

New details emerge in investigation into Roy Halladay's death

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USA Today Images

New details emerge in investigation into Roy Halladay's death

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Retired star pitcher Roy Halladay sped his small sports plane low over the Gulf of Mexico minutes before his fatal crash two weeks ago, climbing sharply in the final seconds before diving into the water, federal investigators said in a preliminary report released Monday.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Noreen Price placed no blame for the Nov. 7 accident near Tampa, simply laying out the facts as gleaned from the plane's data recorder and eyewitnesses. A final report with conclusions could take one to two years.

Price says Halladay, 40, had taken off from a lake near his Tampa-area home about 17 minutes before the crash, taking his ICON A5 to 1,900 feet (580 meters) before dropping to 600 feet (180 meters) as he neared the coastline. He then dropped to 36 feet (11 meters) when he reached the water. While flying at about 105 mph (170 kph), Halladay skimmed the water at 11 feet (3.3 meters), flying in a circle before climbing to 100 feet (30 meters), the plane's data showed.

A witness told investigators the plane climbed to between 300 and 500 feet (95 to 150 meters) when it turned and went into a 45-degree dive. It slammed into the water and flipped.

Halladay's body was found with the plane, which was severely damaged. The plane itself was equipped with a parachute, but it was not deployed.

The former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies star had received the plane from ICON on Oct. 10, and was one of the first to receive the model. In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt "like flying a fighter jet." He had about 700 hours of flight time after getting his license in 2013, the report says. He had 51 hours in ICON A5s, including 14 in the plane that crashed.

Rolled out in 2014, the A5 is an amphibious aircraft meant to be treated like an ATV, a piece of weekend recreational gear with folding wings that can easily be towed on a trailer to a lake where it can take off from the water.

The man who led the plane's design, 55-year-old John Murray Karkow, died while flying an A5 over California's Lake Berryessa on May 8, a crash the NTSB attributed to pilot error.

Another A5 crashed in April, making a hard landing in the water off Key Largo, Florida, injuring the pilot and his passenger. The pilot told investigators the plane descended faster than he expected.

Halladay, an eight-time All-Star, pitched a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter in 2010. He played for the Blue Jays from 1998 to 2009 and for the Phillies from 2009-13, going 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA.