Halladay is an early riser, hard worker

Talk about your early arrivals. Roy Halladay showed up for

spring training two months ago.

Halladay wasn’t looking to impress his new team. That’s just his

way. A strong work ethic is a major reason the 32-year-old

right-hander is widely considered to be the best pitcher in the

majors.

Now that the Philadelphia Phillies have officially started camp,

other players and coaches get to see Halladay do his thing up

close. But they have to get to the ballpark early enough, of

course.

Halladay gets to work at 5:45 a.m. His workout regimen includes

a lot of running, stretching and exercises to strengthen his arm,

legs and core. No matter when he starts, it seems that Halladay is

constantly busy.

“He comes in here and he’s always doing something,” Phillies

manager Charlie Manuel said Friday. “He never sits still. He talks

to you very short and then says he has to go running or whatever.

He definitely has a routine and a program and he’s going to stay on

that. Nothing is going to get in his way. That’s a commitment every

day and that’s good.”

Halladay is already rubbing off on his teammates. Kyle Kendrick

beat him to the ballpark a couple times. Cole Hamels and Chad

Durbin are also posing a challenge.

“There’s been a few young kids that have been chasing me and

trying to beat me,” Halladay said. “I have to start bumping it to

5:30 soon.”

Halladay developed his work ethic early in his career when he

played with Roger Clemens and Pat Hentgen in Toronto. Clemens was

legendary for his workouts long before he was implicated in the

steroid scandal.

“I think when it set in for me the most was after having to go

through and restart my career,” Halladay said, referring to his

demotion to Single-A in 2001. “I felt like if I was going to be

out of baseball, I was going to be out the right way and doing

things to the best of my ability. I kind of took some of those

examples that I’d seen in the past and started to apply it. It’s

one of those things that when you go home and look in the mirror,

you want to know that you gave it your best and sometimes that’s

more important than the success or failure on the field.”

All that hard work certainly has paid off for Halladay. He was a

six-time All-Star, won the 2003 AL Cy Young Award and went 148-76

with a 3.43 ERA in 12 seasons with the Blue Jays.

The Phillies are hoping Halladay helps them become the first NL

team to capture three straight pennants since the St. Louis

Cardinals did it 66 years ago. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

aggressively pursued Halladay before the non-waiver trade deadline

last July, but ended up getting Cliff Lee from Cleveland. Lee was

outstanding with the Phillies and had a dominant postseason,

earning both of Philadelphia’s wins against the New York Yankees in

the World Series.

But once the Phillies were able to land Halladay, Lee became

expendable. Amaro dealt the 2008 AL Cy Young winner to Seattle for

three prospects on the same day he acquired Halladay. Amaro didn’t

want to risk losing Lee in free agency after this season and needed

to replenish the farm system after trading seven minor leaguers to

get Lee and Halladay.

While many fans in Philly still aren’t over losing Lee, Halladay

doesn’t feel any extra pressure to prove he’s worth the $60

million, three-year contract extension he got after the trade. All

he wants is a chance to finally pitch in the postseason after years

of chasing the Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

“For me, the pressure part of it is always what you perceive it

to be,” Halladay said. “I’ve always had my own expectations, my

own ways that I’ve tried to go about my job as far as preparing

myself and competing and those are things I’m going to continue to

do. I expect to go out and compete the best I can. I’ve always

expected that. I don’t feel like there’s anything added in that

department. Obviously getting to the postseason is more expected

here, but that’s why I wanted to be here, so I’m looking forward to

that part of it.”

Halladay went 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA last season, leading the AL

with four shutouts and nine complete games. He won 20 games in ’08,

22 in ’03 and led the majors with 47 complete games last

decade.

“He’ll take the ball, he’ll take it in relief, he’ll take it on

short rest. He likes to play and that’s real good,” Manuel said.

“He’s the top pitcher in the game right now. He gives us a big

horse at the top.”

Halladay gives the Phillies a legitimate ace they’ve lacked

since Curt Schilling departed in 2000. Hamels was MVP of the NLCS

and World Series in 2008, but the left-hander has never won more

than 15 games and is coming off an inconsistent season.

If Hamels regains his old form, he and Halladay would be quite a

1-2 punch. Just don’t expect Halladay to boast about the

possibility. He’s not a trash-talker and wasn’t about to give in

when told that Johan Santana of the New York Mets proclaimed

himself the best pitcher in the NL East a day earlier.

“I steer clear of that,” Halladay said. “I think it was a Lou

Holtz quote, ‘Well done is always more important than well said.’

I’ve always tried to take that philosophy and I stay out of those

things as much as possible.”