Roy Halladay Wednesday reacted to the news about his right shoulder the only way a pitcher who isn't ready to close the book on his career should react to such news: With optimism.
Halladay went to Los Angeles orthopedist Neal ElAttrache, who from the background I've seen about him is sort of the Pat Croce of surgeons -- very optimistic, very "yeah, you can do it!" when it comes to timetables. What Halladay took from that meeting was that with a little arthroscopic blasting of a bone spur, a little cleaning up a itty bitty labrum tear and ... BOOM! He's back before the 2013 season is over, feelin' like it's 2010 all over again!
Personally, I like realists for doctors. Because that sounds ... I won't say delusional, but I'll put the word delusional in this sentence so that you can imagine something just barely below delusional.
Even if by some miracle Roy Halladay's surgery and rehab go so well that he is, indeed, pitching in minor-league games come August, there are only two ways the Phillies should even consider pitching him in the majors again this season: 1) They are out of the playoff hunt come September, or 2) they have wrapped up a playoff spot in September.
There is no way anyone with respect for the game and the entire point of playing the game -- winning, that's the point, to win -- can offer Halladay anything more than that in 2013. Yes, he has been an elite pitcher with Cy Youngs and a likely trip to Cooperstown in his future. But as it pertains to winning -- again, the point of playing, the thing I'd hope Roy Halladay loves more than anything about the game -- there is no rationale that allows you to assume he can be a part of that this season.
The Phillies already have squandered time and success on this. Roy Halladay went out there against an absolute joke of a team in the Marlins knowing he was hurt and basically gave one of the worst teams in history a blowout win, gift wrapped. Forget the fact that the organization stupidly and needlessly insisted on letting Halladay open the season on his regular day when he was obviously behind and struggling massively in spring training -- at least that was their choice. Sunday, however, was Halladay's choice. He chose to go out there hurt and get bombed by a Miami squad that left Philly to play three games against San Diego and scored all of one (1) run in those three games.
Yes, we can rationalize that Halladay was a competitor for going out there at all. Except that the Phillies went through this last year. They hid the fact (lied, really they lied) that he was having back problems, which they said led to his shoulder soreness. Then they gave him great latitude in going out there in the second game of the season to get bombed by a Braves team that has been just abusing him brutally the last two seasons. So there was a history of the Phillies letting Roy be that competitor and having it blow up in their faces.
Halladay owed it to them not to play the macho card again. He did, and if the Phillies somehow end this season a game short of a playoff spot -- and let's not act like it's folly, because teams fall a game short all the time -- that Sunday start will stand out like an ugly welt.
If Halladay plans on resurrecting his career off this surgery, that is for 2014 and beyond. Sure, the Phillies can do him a solid and let him show his wares in September -- if the games don't matter to their fate. Otherwise, Roy can get an incentive-laden deal from either the Phils or another squad for next season and see if he can buck the odds and become a 36-year-old pitcher who can be effective after shoulder surgery.
They don't owe him anything, they've already paid enough of a price.