Manager Joe Maddon's decision to start Halladay in Tuesday's game was a testament to his body of work over the past dozen seasons, a career that has included five other All-Star selections and one Cy Young.
Choosing Zack Greinke of the Royals or Edwin Jackson of the Tigers may have been the more chic decision -- especially at a time when no one pitcher has dominated the league. But choosing Halladay is what Maddon considered the smart move.
"There are so many qualified pitchers among the group," Maddon said. "But based on the body of work, I think Doc over the past several years has demonstrated to be possibly the best pitcher in the American League.
"He's still at the very pinnacle of his pitching ability."
He has compiled a 10-3 record and 2.85 ERA over 17 starts, which is perhaps why the Phillies -- among other teams -- have hotly pursued the ace ever since Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi made his availability known. There are no guarantees that Halladay will be traded -- and he knows it. But until there is a resolution one way or another, the chatter will continue to follow him.
"Yeah, it's tough," Halladay said. "Obviously, I'm somewhere that I enjoy being and spent my entire career, so there's a lot that goes into it. But you know, I think as a player, there's that will to win and there's that will to do it in October, and basically that's all this has been about is I would like the chance. And I'm not saying it won't be Toronto. It's just what's going to be best for the organization -- are we going to be able to do that, and how do we move forward?"
The best way to proceed is to pitch -- which is what Halladay will do Tuesday, opposite National League starter Tim Lincecum. He hopes it will not be his last time pitching on a national stage this season.
|Ichiro Suzuki, rf|
|Derek Jeter, ss|
|Joe Mauer, c|
|Mark Teixeira, 1b|
|Jason Bay, lf|
|Josh Hamilton, cf|
|Evan Longoria, 3b|
|Aaron Hill, 2b|
|Roy Halladay, p|
|Hanley Ramirez, ss|
|Chase Utley, 2b|
|Albert Pujols, 1b|
|Ryan Braun, rf|
|Raul Ibanez, lf|
|David Wright, 3b|
|Shane Victorino, cf|
|Yadier Molina, c|
|Tim Lincecum, p|
"But it has been tough because I do enjoy Toronto so much," Halladay said. "You would like to be three games up in first place and not have to deal with this."
Certainly, he is not the only one dealing with it. Halladay's availability was a far more pronounced topic on Monday than his starting assignment -- generally one of the greatest honors a pitcher can enjoy. And so Halladay's lone teammate here, Hill, spent little of his first All-Star Monday talking about himself.
"You can't worry about it," Hill said. "Yeah, it's out there and it's in the media now. It's interesting to think about what could happen, because you never who would have thought something like that would happen. But if it does, and it gets to that point, then you deal with it."
Halladay, despite what is developing into a Hall of Fame career, has never pitched in the postseason. And he would seem unlikely to make his October debut this year -- at least not with a Jays team that entered the All-Star break 11 games out of first place.
"It's not him giving up or anything," Hill said, reiterating Halladay's desire to win.
But until the answers come -- and they may not come for a while -- Halladay can do little other than pitch. He will take his All-Star assignment seriously, as he has each of the other three times he has pitched. And he will hope for better results.
In those appearances, Halladay has allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings. This will be his first All-Star start, though he has been elected to the AL team six times.
"I think that when you do get that chance to be the first one out, it's special," Halladay said. "You realize the guys that are around you, the guys who are in the clubhouse and the guys who are across the field, you know, it's something that doesn't happen very often."
Halladay's most recent outing came against the Rays in St. Petersburg, putting the All-Star start on his regular fifth-day schedule.
His All-Star duties will also ensure a marquee matchup: Doc against The Prince. With Albert Pujols batting in the heart of the NL lineup, he and Halladay are certain to meet for the second time in their careers.
In an Interleague game on June 13, 2005, Halladay draped an 0-for-4 collar around Pujols.
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.
With a career record of 141-69, Halladay is one of only four pitchers since 1900 to begin his career with at least 141 wins and less than half as many losses. The others are Lefty Grove (300-141), Whitey Ford (236-106) and Pedro Martinez (214-99).
Halladay will be the third Blue Jays pitcher to start an All-Star Game. The others were Dave Stieb in 1983 and 1984 and David Wells in 2000.