Big League Stew contributor David Brown continued his spring swing through Florida's Grapefruit League on Thursday with a visit to the Clearwater to spy on the two-time defending NL champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Roy Halladay(notes), coach Rich Dubee and Chooch Ruiz have something very special in store. Check back throughout the day for reports on the Fightins, and follow Dave's Twitter feed for updates on what's happening Friday.
Good morning, brotherly lovin' Stewies!
It's cliche for ballplayers to say "I'm glad we don't have to face him," about the best pitcher on their own team. But Phillies batters weren't just spouting platitudes about Roy Halladay after watching him throw full-speed batting practice for the first time with his new club.
The likes of Chase Utley(notes) and Raul Ibanez(notes) didn't even take swings — not one — off Halladay, whose pitch movement just seemed to confound guys in the box. It's also a cliche to say that "pitchers are ahead of the hitters" at this point in the spring. Well, Halladay is WAY ahead.
Phillies rookie Domonic Brown, one of the 25 (or better) top prospects in all of the minors, got adventurous, hitting two fouls and whiffing for a theoretical strikeout.
"It was pretty nasty, man," Brown said. "Pretty nasty. It was tough for me. Roy was throwing his cutter, and everything was moving. He has a nasty sinker."
The drill was odd-looking from afar because nobody else had been swinging. Were the hitters just supposed to be live dummies while Halladay got his pitching beard on? What's the etiquette here? Brown was a little sheepish afterward.
"I kind of felt bad [about swinging]," Brown said.
Ah, don't sweat it, kid. Roy was cool with it.
"I've heard a lot great things about him," Halladay said. "Obviously it's tough for any of them right now; it's the first time they're seeing pitchers. They're just trying to see the ball as much as they can."
Manager Charlie Manuel, an old hitting coach himself, really likes what he sees from the rookie, who was talked about for inclusion in the megatrades Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro pulled in the offseason to get Halladay.
"Brown's got a talent," Manuel said. "He leverages the ball out front and it jumps off his bat. I like that he makes contact even on balls that almost get by him. We'll see how quick his bat is in the game."
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Halladay, who is not intimidating to talk to (despite the look on his face above) was jazzed about the entire session.
"It's nice to work with someone standing on both sides of the plate," he said. "You start to get a feel for being able to pitch inside. ... The earlier the better. That's something I try and do as much as I can. If you can do it comfortably against your own teammates when you obviously don't want to hit anybody, it's usually a good sign."
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Chase Utley was impressed, too.