Doc set for surgery, hopeful for 2013 return
Righty has partially torn rotator cuff, frayed labrum, bone spurs in shoulder
SAN FRANCISCO -- Roy Halladay smiled and laughed as he relaxed with teammates in the visitors' clubhouse Wednesday morning at AT&T Park.
He explained his cheery disposition a short time later in the dugout. He announced he will have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder as early as next week, when doctors plan to remove a bone spur and clean up fraying in the labrum and rotator cuff. That is serious stuff for a pitcher who turns 36 next week, but Halladay spoke optimistically about his prognosis. He is hopeful he not only will pitch again this season for the Phillies, but he will pitch more effectively than he has pitched in a long time.
Of course, there are no guarantees with any surgery. Halladay will miss months -- he won't have a more accurate timetable for his return until after the surgery -- and while he will try his best, he simply might be unable to recapture his former magic.
"He said he thought they could turn back the clock two or three years for me," Halladay said about the diagnosis from Dodgers physician Neal ElAttrache. "They said that my range of motion will be better, my location will be better and hopefully the velocity will be better. The doctor seemed pretty optimistic that if what they saw is correct, I could come back and be a lot more effective and have a chance to pitch this year and turn back the clock. I thought it was very good news. Obviously I don't want to miss time, but I think as far as scenarios go, I feel like it's a lot better than some of the things I anticipated."
Halladay visited ElAttrache on Monday in Los Angeles, where he had an X-ray and MRI. ElAttrache gave him no indication the shoulder could be worse than what they saw in test results.
A complete tear of the labrum or rotator cuff could have meant the end of his career.
"Nobody wants to go out on a bad note," Halladay said. "If you had a choice, you want to go out strong. Ideally you want to go out as a world champion. But some of those things aren't in your control. I have no regrets at any point in my career and if things don't work out and they do end on a sour note, I'm not going to look at it that way. But I really don't feel that's going to be the case. I really feel I have a shot to come back and help our team."
Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Tyler Cloyd will take Halladay's spot in the rotation. He is pitching Friday in Arizona. Cloyd might be a short-term solution. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said they will continue to look externally for help, but mentioned left-hander John Lannan could be back in the next few weeks.
Lannan is on the disabled list with an injured left knee, but Amaro said they have stepped up his rehab.
"I'm sad that I don't have him available to pitch," Amaro said of Halladay. "I want him to pitch. But we can't control that. I guess of the scenarios it could have been, it's a pretty good one."
Said Halladay: "I was going in open-minded. My biggest concern was I couldn't throw the ball where I wanted. I wasn't concerned about velocity; the pain wasn't overwhelming. I couldn't understand why my location was so poor. So I really didn't know what to think. I didn't know if they had to tighten something up, I really didn't know. But I went in open-minded. And I kind of felt like it was good news, that I have a good chance to come back and pitch and help us try to get to the World Series. That's the ultimate goal. That's why I'm playing."
Halladay is 2-4 with an 8.65 ERA in seven starts this season. He got throttled in his first two starts (12 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings) before he appeared to right the ship in his next three (four earned runs in 21 innings). He said he started to feel pain in his shoulder following his April 24 start against the Pirates. He told nobody about the pain because he said he had pitched successfully with worse discomfort in the past. But he allowed 17 runs in just six innings in his last two starts.
That is when he told the Phillies he could no longer pitch.
"I really didn't feel like it was anything different," he explained. "One of my strongest workout sessions was before my last start. My arm work session before my last start was probably the strongest I've had all year. So the strength was there. The soreness wasn't excruciating. I wouldn't do anything different. I felt I could compete. The pain was not disabling."
In comparison, Halladay injured his groin early during Game 5 of the 2010 National League Championship Series, but remained in the game, won and extended the series.
"The groin here was much worse," he said.
It will be an interesting next several months. He will have surgery and try to come back, like he said. If he cannot build up his arm strength during the rehab process, he said he would not rule out pitching in the bullpen, although he fully expects to come back as a starter. He also said he would like to remain in Philadelphia. He is a free agent after the season.
"I really want to get through this, come back and see how strong I can be and see how effective I can be, and see if I can help us," Halladay said. "Like I told Ruben and [head athletic trainer] Scott [Sheridan] and [manager] Charlie [Manuel], I'm not going to make any decisions right now about down the road. I'm going to focus on the here and now and this process. I've always told you guys I love Philadelphia, love playing here, it's a great place to be. But there's a lot to be determined. I want to be effective and I want to be a part of the team. I don't want to be a hindrance."
He has a long road ahead, but he is optimistic he won't be.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.