Here’s Why Roy Halladay’s Surgery Isn’t Such Bad News


May 8, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (34) talks to the media before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT

Losing Roy Halladay for potentially three months, and perhaps the whole season, to shoulder surgery is not a good thing.

Coming into the season, the Phillies were depending on Halladay to return to some semblance of effectiveness, hopefully to the level of a decent #3 starter at least.

As everyone knows, that didn’t happen.

Instead, Halladay announced on Wednesday he would be undergoing surgery on his pitching shoulder to repair a bone spur that had caused fraying of the labrum and rotator cuff.

That sounds like a lot of bad news. However, speaking to reporters before the series finale against the Giants, Roy sounded downright optimistic about it all.

"“The doctor seemed pretty optimistic that if what they saw is correct, I could come back and be a lot more effective and have a chance to pitch this year,” Halladay said. “He said he thought they could turn back the clock two or three years for me. I thought it was very good news. Obviously I don’t want to miss time, but I think as far as scenarios go I feel like it’s a lot better than some of the things I anticipated.“The fact that it’s a scope and cleanup is a lot better than going in and having to reattach [the rotator cuff] and have a full surgery. This is a lot better option, a lot quicker, and at my age a lot better for me.”"

Hidden in the doom and gloom of the realization that the Phils now need to find another pitcher, one with far less potential for greatness than Halladay, to take his spot in the rotation, is a truly positive fact.

At least there actually is something physically wrong with Roy Halladay, something that doctors think they can fix.

"“I feel like I have something to grasp onto, something to move forward with,” said Halladay. “I don’t feel as lost as before. I feel like there’s some answers there, some things that we see that can be done and I’m optimistic that we’ll get it fixed and I’ll be able to come back and pitch.”"

There is a physical cause for his loss of velocity and his inability to locate his pitches. The bigger worry, probably for Halladay more than anyone else, was that he had just “lost it,” that whatever he had in the past had just disappeared.

May 5, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (34) delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

But no, there is an actual, identifiable problem and, according to Roy and his docs, there is a solution. There is a solution that can possibly lead to Halladay being the pitcher he was two or three years ago.

Of course, we’re talking about shoulder surgery on a 36-year-old pitcher with about a million innings in that right arm. Not only is there no guarantee he’ll come back and pitch this year, even if he does, there’s no guarantee that the surgery will actually make him more effective.

The list of unknowns here is long, and the guarantees are nonexistent.

What would be most crushing – and therefore most likely to happen with the way things have gone for the Phillies the last couple years – is that Halladay ends up not being able to pitch this year, becomes a free agent, signs with another team, reverts to the form he showed during his first two years with the Phils, and wins a World Series for another franchise.

Come on, you pretty much KNOW this is going to happen, right?

Halladay was asked by reporters yesterday if he would return to the Phillies in 2014 on a cut-rate deal. He did not answer with a full-throated “HELL YEAH!”

"“I really want to get through this, come back and see how strong I can be and see how effective I can be, and see if I can help us,” he said. “I’m not going to make any decisions right now about down the road. I’m going to focus on the here and now and this process. I’ve always told you guys I love Philadelphia, love playing here. It’s a great place to be. But there’s a lot to be determined. I want to be effective and I want to be a part of the team. I don’t want to be a hindrance.”"

And frankly, that makes sense, from both sides’ perspectives. Certainly, Halladay will probably leave the door open for a return, as will the Phils. But if Roy’s goal is to win a World Series (and as everyone knows, it clearly is), is Philadelphia still the best place to make that happen?

The Phils appear to be marching toward a rebuilding effort during the next two to three years. Leaving the Phillies and moving on to another team would probably give Halladay a better chance to chase that elusive world title.

Of course, that discounts the possibility that Roy can return at some point this year and help the Phils make a run through October and win a title here in 2013.

Why are you laughing?

Still, given the bad news yesterday, there was some good in there as well.

There is an actual, physical problem with Roy Halladay.

And there is a possible solution.