Roy Halladay retiring after signing deal with Blue Jays
Ace pitcher won 203 games with Toronto, Philadelphia
Former Toronto ace pitcher Roy Halladay has signed a one-day, free-agent contract with the team so he can retire a Blue Jay.
Halladay was Toronto's first-round selection in the 1995 major league draft and pitched 12 seasons with the club.
"There's a lot of travel and a lot of time away from family and loved ones," he said Monday in explaining his decision to retire. "I felt this is a great time for me to get back involved and help my kids. They're starting to strive for their dreams and that's something I want to be part of, so I'm looking forward to that."
Halladay, a workhorse during the prime of his career, has endured many injuries in recent seasons.
In 2013, he was hampered by shoulder problems and had a 6.82 earned-run average in 13 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies. Halladay's fastball also averaged only 88 miles per hour.
I was very lucky to have a lot of people in the [Blue Jays] organization really develop and help me become the player I was able to become.- Retiring Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay
The 36-year-old right-hander won 203 games with a 3.38 earned-run average between the Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, who acquired him in a trade in December 2009 for minor league prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor.
While Halladay said he wished he could have retired with both teams, Toronto won out as the team that gave him his start and stuck with him when he struggled early in his career.
"As most people know, I was very lucky to have a lot of people in the organization really develop and help me become the player I was able to become," Halladay said at a news conference at baseball's winter meetings in Florida. "And [with] the organization and the support of the organization, from the front office to the coaches to the players, it really turned my career around and it made a big difference in my career and that's why I'm very fortunate to retire as a Blue Jay."
Halladay went to great lengths to express his sincere gratitude to the Phillies organization and its fans. However, he also said he wouldn't have been able to get a shot with a World Series contender if not for the Blue Jays.
"I want the Phillies organization to know, I want the fans to know how much I enjoyed my time there. How much they meant to me, how much they meant to my family and what a major part of my career they were," he said.
"But to me the biggest thing was had I not been fortunate enough to come up with the Blue Jays and have the people around me that I did and have the people develop me that I did I would've never had that chance."
2-time Cy Young winner
Halladay won a pair of Cy Young awards as the top pitcher in baseball — in 2003 while a member of the Blue Jays and in 2010 with Philadelphia.
He is among the leaders in many pitcher categories with the Blue Jays, including second in wins (148), strikeouts (1,495) and shutouts (15). He ranks third in ERA (3.43), starts (287), complete games (49) and innings pitched (2046 2/3).
Halladay also boasts the highest winning percentage in team history at .661. He is the only Blue Jay, along with Roger Clemens, with two 20-win seasons, with his 22-win season in 2003 the most in franchise history.
Known for superb conditioning and a relentless work ethic, Halladay pitched no less than 220 innings every season between 2006-'11.
Halladay made his major-league debut in Toronto with an innocuous but telling two games in 1998 as a September call-up.
His first game as a Blue Jay was unremarkable. In a five-inning start against the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he gave up three runs and a homer but earned a 7-5 win.
A week later, Halladay went the distance against Detroit. His stat line reads like what Toronto fans would come to expect: nine innings, eight strikeouts, no walks and just run, a homer in the ninth inning of a 2-1 victory.
The dominant starter, however, wouldn't emerge until after several ugly seasons that involved an important trip to the minors. A serviceable season in 1999 led to a disastrous 2000 when he finished with a 10.64 ERA in just 67 innings pitched.
That was the turning point for Halladay. Instead of giving up on him, Toronto sent him to single-A Dunedin in '01 to rebuild his pitching mechanics. He was promoted through double- and triple-A until returning to the Blue Jays on July 2.
There was a period of time I didn't know what was going to happen, where I probably wasn't as positive as I could be about what my future was going to be.- Roy Halladay on having to rebuild his pitching mechanics in 2001
His first game back was ugly, six runs allowed over two-plus innings of relief against Boston. But Toronto kept him in the majors and he started every game the rest of the season, finishing with a complete-game shutout against Cleveland for a respectable 3.16 ERA.
"There was a period of time I didn't know what was going to happen," Halladay said. "Where I probably wasn't as positive as I could be about what my future was going to be.
"But I think through the support of my wife and people in the organization I was able to find people that really helped me see the mental side of it and see the positives and that's really where I felt my career changed."
With the Phillies, he pitched the 20th perfect game in major-league history on May 29, 2010 and threw a no-hitter Oct. 6 in his first playoff start, just the second no-hitter in baseball post-season history.
Halladay's last shot at an elusive World Series title ended when the Phillies were beaten by St. Louis in the 2011 National League Championship Series. The Phillies failed to make the playoffs the past two seasons.
While many pitchers retire due to recurring shoulder problems, Halladay said he's walking away from the game at a time when his shoulders are feeling strong. But the veteran pitcher admits he's had to battle through back issues the last two seasons that have affected his pitching mechanics.
"I had to change some things, do some things differently to be able to throw the ball and that's led to some shoulder issues," Halladay said. "But the big thing has really been the back.
"Speaking with doctors, they feel like at this point if I can step away and take some of that high-level pressure off it, it will really hopefully allow me to do some regular things and help out with the kids' teams.
"I want to be active and continue to do the things I enjoy doing. The biggest thing is I'm trying to avoid surgery."
Halladay also wants to be remembered for more than just wins or losses.
"For me it was just not quitting," he said. "I definitely had some bumps in the road and even when things were good, you're going to have some bad days.
"I didn't ever feel like when I took the mound I gave anything less than my best effort . . . and I'm really proud that I feel like I was able to do that."
With files from The Canadian Press