For Roy Halladay, opening day means it’s just one day closer to
Halladay and the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies are ready to
get the most anticipated season in franchise history started.
Expectations are high this year. So high, in fact, that anything
less than a World Series title won’t be considered a success.
But the Phillies have to play 162 games first, starting with
Friday’s opener against the Houston Astros.
”I think we’re all anxious, more so to get back to the
postseason,” Halladay said. ”That being the goal and having
another quality team to put on the field, I think we’re all
anxious. Opening day is just the start of it.”
The four-time NL East champions became instant favorites to win
their second World Series in four years after signing Cliff Lee to
a $120 million, five-year deal. The addition of Lee to go along
with Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels gives the Phillies a
starting rotation that’s the envy of baseball.
Injuries to five-time All-Star Chase Utley and closer Brad Lidge
have brought Philadelphia back closer to the pack. Still, the
Phillies won’t be satisfied unless they are riding down Broad
Street for a championship parade in October.
”Crazy things happen in baseball. It obviously takes a lot, and
just because you have certain names on paper doesn’t guarantee
anything,” Halladay said. ”We’re very well aware of that. If we
all go out and do our jobs the way we’re supposed to and we’re able
to stay healthy, then we like our chances. But we all know what
we’re up against. I don’t think teams are going to go running from
us just because of the guys that we have on our roster.”
Halladay is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner. He won 21
games in his first season with the Phillies, including a perfect
game. He then tossed a no-hitter in his first career postseason
How does he top that?
”Personal accomplishments are nice, but the reason I’m playing
now is to try to win a championship,” he said. ”That’s still
there, still in the forefront, so for me that’s the biggest driving
factor. Really, it’s going to be a lot of the same from last
Halladay will be making his second opening-day start for the
Phillies, and his first at Citizens Bank Park. The starter for the
Astros, Brett Myers, is quite familiar with the hype and hoopla
surrounding opening day. Myers started three straight openers for
Philadelphia from 2007-09.
A first-round pick by the Phillies in 1999, Myers had 73 wins
and 21 saves in eight seasons in Philadelphia. He was 2-1 during
the 2008 postseason, helping the Phillies win the World Series.
”If I read too much into it, it’s like one of those things
where you get too amped up for something and then you have to
control your emotions and be able to pitch,” said Myers, who was
14-8 with a 3.14 ERA in his first season with Houston. ”It is
Opening day and it’s kind of like a playoff game, but you’re
starting the season. So you have to control your emotions and try
to make pitches and don’t get too hyped up.”
Myers is one of five former Phillies, including three starting
pitchers, on the Astros. Houston general manager Ed Wade previously
held the same position in Philadelphia.
The Astros finished just 76-86 last season, but they were 59-52
after an awful 17-34 start.
”We finished strong. We didn’t give up on the season, we played
hard every day,” said center fielder Michael Bourn, another one of
the former Phillies. ”That helped us out a lot, and hopefully
it’ll carry over to this year. I know it’s a different year and
every (team) makes different moves.
”You try to say the year before can help you, but you’re in a
The Phillies will feature a different lineup from the one they
used the last few years. Missing from the middle of the order will
be their Nos. 3 and 5 hitters. Utley is out indefinitely with a
knee injury. Jayson Werth departed for Washington.
Jimmy Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, moves down from the leadoff spot
to hit third instead of Utley. Raul Ibanez, who batted fifth at
times during the 2009 season, will start the season in that spot
behind Ryan Howard.
”I’m never satisfied from an offensive standpoint. I think we
can always do better,” manager Charlie Manuel said. ”If we stick
to how we usually play, we’ll be fine because the talent is there.
We come to the ballpark every day to win. People say we were down
on runs last year, but we won 97 games, which is the most we’ve won
in a long time.
”The first time in baseball that the Phillies had the most
wins. We hit good enough, but we can do better. We can pitch better
and play better and win more games. Going to the World Series is
our ultimate goal, and if we don’t get there, we’ll be very
disappointed in ourselves.”