COMMENTARY | It's so hard to watch a pitcher who has been so brilliant be completely lost on the mound. It's so hard to watch a man considered so good to be around struggle to the point where he has no way of hiding the agony in his face. Then we found out on Sunday after what had to be the worst performance of his career that Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay is hurt.
Finally, an explanation for pitching efforts so sub-Halladay they've bordered on scary. Like last season, Roy is having shoulder problems. They're not the same problems that saddled him last year. But they are problems nonetheless.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Halladay will likely go on the disabled list. They'll look into his shoulder issues and decide on a course of action going forward.
Just two seasons ago, Roy Halladay was runnerup for the National League Cy Young Award he had won the season before. He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in both leagues for six consecutive seasons. Then the shoulder problems ruined his 2012 campaign and may do the same this year.
Is this the sudden end of a potential Hall of Fame career? Can some medical procedure return the Roy Halladay of Cy Young quality, the man with the overpowering, dancing fastball and pinpoint control of off-speed pitches. Can that happen this year?
Seems unlikely, doesn't it?
Roy Halladay will be 36 years old on May 14. He's in the last guaranteed year of his $20 million contract and there is no way he'll hit enough numbers to reach his vesting option for 2014. Barring a resurrection of biblical proportions this season, we may have - perhaps probably have - seen the end of Roy Halladay in a Phillies uniform.
And he will have exited in just hideous fashion : 2 1/3 innings pitched on Sunday against the Miami Marlins, four hits, nine earned runs, four walks, two hit batters. It was a painful outing to watch in a season that's had too many of them from him.
The only way he comes back to Philadelphia is for a contract for half the money or less, laden with performance incentives. It's more likely another team out there will be willing to take a chance and bankroll him for more. He's gone, plain and simple. And he won't be the last great Phillies player of this great era that will be departing.
But somehow, he seems to represent an entire Phillies era of success that is obviously slipping away. Things about pitching that came so easily to him for so long - his poetic motion, his command of the strike zone, his intimidation of the hitter opposite him - now don't. He looks bewildered. He watches balls fly out of the park off the bats of pedestrian hitters, appearing not to believe it's possible. His disgust is etched on that face for every television and fan-o-vision board to show the world.
Maybe somehow he can find a medical answer that will make him a facsimile of what Roy Halladay once was. But if this shoulder problem is serious enough, he won't be finding it in Philadelphia. And he'll be missed.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.
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