CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay tuned up for his possible return to the Philadelphia Phillies' starting rotation next week with a three-inning rehab stint against the Class A Fort Myers Miracle on Thursday night.
Pitching for the Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies' farm club in the Florida State League, Halladay threw 61 pitches, 43 of them for strikes. He faced 13 batters and gave up one unearned run on three hits. He struck out four and walked none as the Threshers topped the Miracle, 4-3, in 12 innings at Bright House Field.
After Halladay went to a full count against the first batter in the game, he did not go to three balls against another hitter.
Halladay left the stadium shortly after his outing without addressing the media, presumably to catch a flight to Colorado where the Phillies open a weekend series against the Rockies on Friday night. A club official declined to make Halladay available to the press or to issue a statement on the pitcher's behalf.
"He was happy just to get back out on the mound again," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "It had been awhile since he was out there.
"He was a little rusty, but that surprised no one. He got his work in; that's the important thing. He was executing. His two-seam fastball at times looked good and his breaking ball was in the zone quite a bit. There wasn't a whole lot of damage. Only one ball was hit hard off him."
If all continues to go well, Halladay may return to the mound for the Phillies on Tuesday against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
"I imagine that's a decision that will be made in the next couple days," Jordan said.
The 35-year-old right hander, who stretched out his arm with several minutes of pregame long toss in the outfield before going to the bullpen to warm up, was tagged for a run in the first inning on an error and a double to deep center field. He retired the side in order in the second, but yielded two singles in the third.
Then Halladay left the game and returned to the bullpen where he threw 12 more pitches before shaking hands with many of his temporary Minor League teammates.
"He was on a pitch count of 60 pitches, but he wanted to get up four times -- that was why he went to the bullpen," Jordan explained. "He wanted to get the feeling of going out there for four innings."
"Go, get 'em in Philly, Roy!" one fan shouted as Halladay finished up.
"Good to see you back, Roy!" yelled another.
Thursday marked Halladay's first appearance in a game since May 27, when he was pulled from his start after two innings because of a strained right latissimus dorsi muscle in his back. It was his first appearance in the Minor Leagues since 2001 when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Phillies, who struggled during the first half of the season, posting their poorest record at the All-Star break (37-50) since 1997 when they were 24-61, are hoping a healthy Halladay can help spark a resurgence during the second half.
The Phillies are currently 11th in the National League with a 4.04 ERA. Since Halladay went on the disabled list on May 28, they have an ERA of 5.03.
Before he was sidelined, Halladay was 4-5 in 11 starts with a 3.98 ERA. During the month of May, the two-time Cy Young Award winner was 1-3 record in six starts with a 6.11 ERA.
"It's up to us," Halladay said earlier this month. "It really is. We can tuck our tails or we can fight. There's a chance we fight and still come up short, but I'd rather do it that way than admit defeat halfway through the year. I think we've got a long ways to go. We've got a lot of things that can improve that I think we're looking forward to in the second half.
"I believe we have the mentality that we're going to go out and play hard. If we come up short, we come up short, but I don't think it's going to be due to a lack of effort or a lack of interest. I feel like we have a chance and we're going to go out and play that way."