Pitchers and catchers aren't required to be at Toronto's Spring Training site until Saturday, but there were plenty already on hand at the facility. Halladay has been training in Florida for some time now, and there have been no lingering issues from the strained right forearm that ended his season prematurely in September.
A recent Internet report indicated that Halladay had suffered some stiffness in the same forearm during one of his offseason workouts. That caused a minor stir among Toronto fans, but Halladay, who went 16-5 with a 3.19 ERA last season, has denied the rumor.
Halladay isn't hurt, but the former Cy Young Award winner will be taking things a bit slower this spring. The 29-year-old plans on limiting the amount of time he spends working on his cut fastball -- a pitch that can put extra strain on a pitcher's forearm. Instead, Halladay will spend more time honing his changeup and sinker during the first half of Spring Training.
"With Doc, it's just that one pitch that sometimes irritates his forearm. It makes sense just to [have him hold off on throwing it]," Gibbons said. "Now he can just go out there and work on his changeup and work on other things."
That will present a change of pace for Halladay, whose intense workout routine has been well documented. The slight adjustment to Halladay's spring throwing program should help reduce any excess wear and tear on the pitcher's arm.
Contract talk: An increased payroll in each of the past two offseasons has enabled the Jays to dish out some hefty contracts, but Gibbons has yet to be on the receiving end.
Gibbons' current deal expires after the 2007 season, but he knows his situation isn't in need of an immediate solution. This year, Gibbons is scheduled to make $500,000, which is tied for the lowest salary among big-league managers. That's the furthest thing from his mind, though.
"To be honest with you, I haven't given it a whole lot of thought," Gibbons said. "Hopefully, we'll sit down and talk about it, but that's a low priority right now.
"It doesn't affect me," he added. "I'm not paralyzed by that. It's a game of results. If we play good, good things happen. If we don't? Bad things happen."
Two issues: As Gibbons sat inside, away from the unusually cool weather in Dunedin, he said that he thinks the two biggest issues facing the Jays this spring involve the pitching staff.
"We've just got to line up our rotation -- the tail end of our rotation -- and see how that all shakes out," Gibbons said. "Then we have to see how the bullpen lines up."
Pitchers John Thomson, Tomo Ohka, Josh Towers and Shaun Marcum are the leading candidates for the Nos. 4 and 5 spots in Toronto's rotation. The Blue Jays will also have a considerable group of hurlers competing for the final job in the bullpen.
Early birds: Many of Toronto's pitchers and position players have started trickling into the Bobby Mattick Training Center, even though the first full-squad workout isn't until Feb. 22. Some of the early arrivals include: Thomson, Towers, B.J. Ryan, Vernon Wells, Gregg Zaun, Alex Rios, Aaron Hill, John McDonald, Russ Adams, Jason Phillips, Sal Fasano, Scott Downs, Jeremy Accardo, Jason Frasor and Brandon League, among others.
A tough loss: In late January, Gibbons' father, William, lost his battle with cancer. William Gibbons, who spent 30 years in the United States military, passed away at age 69 in San Antonio, Texas.
"We had some good times this offseason, which was important," Gibbons said. "He had a good life and he got to do a lot of good things. He got a chance to see me play a little bit in the big leagues and manage a little bit in the big leagues. I know he enjoyed that. He was a wonderful dad."
Quotable: "He's got that intensity level, that confidence and that drive. That's what separates him in a lot of ways from most guys. He just keeps coming at you. He doesn't back off." -- Gibbons, on Halladay