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Doc takes big step in return from shoulder injury

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Roy Halladay took another step toward a return to competitive action on Sunday, when he threw off a mound for the first time since having corrective surgery on his throwing shoulder.

Halladay, who underwent a procedure to correct debridement in his labrum and rotator cuff in May, threw 20 pitches, all of them fastballs. The Phillies aren't certain when he'll take his next step, but if he feels good, he could be back on a mound again soon.

"I don't look at velocity at all right now," said pitching coach Rich Dubee. "I'm looking at his arm path, making sure he gets his arm up where it needs to be. And ever since Day 1, it's been very encouraging. After the surgery his range of motion has been phenomenal."

Halladay, an eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young Award-winner, posted a 2-4 record and an 8.65 ERA in seven starts before undergoing surgery. He's spent the last few months diligently working back into shape, and Dubee said that his arm slot is eight to 10 inches higher than it used to be.

Dubee resisted talking about the next stage of the plan, though. He said that it's clear Halladay will need more time to get his arm in working order, and he wouldn't say how many bullpen sessions the ace would need before he can face hitters. For now the Phillies are being conservative.

"This is the first stage of another phase that we're going to be going through," said Dubee. "It's not like he's going to throw 100 pitches and then tomorrow be on the mound in a game somewhere. This is just the progression he's on. Today was his first day on the mound, and it went well."

Asked if Halladay could come back as a reliever, Dubee replied that in his mind, Halladay is still a starter. The Phillies are going to give Halladay room to come back at his own pace, and they won't make any drastic decisions until there aren't any other options.

"He'll determine how fast we can go by how he's feeling," said Dubee. "We've got a plan on paper, but again, that's flexible according to where he is and how fast he progresses."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for
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