Over the past decade, the public’s knowledge of the physical and mental toll that playing in the NFL takes on players has been explored like never before. Perhaps we’re going to now begin to understand just how much it takes to pitch successfully in the major leagues for more than a decade.
During Friday night’s ESPN documentary “Imperfect: The Roy Halladay Story,” Halladay’s widow, Brandy, says that during the 2012 season, Roy shrunk three inches because of spinal compression. It’s a pretty shocking admission, especially when you consider that Halladay continued to pitch not only through the 2012 season, but in 2013 as well.
Between 2002 and 2011, Halladay pitched 2,194 2/3 regular season innings. Over that period, he made eight All-Star teams, won two Cy Young Awards and built a resume that ultimately led to him being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
However, Brandy has previously acknowledged that Halladay pitched eight innings of one-run ball in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS despite feeling a pop in his back early in the game. By 2012, the incredible workload that Halladay had taken on over the previous 10 seasons caught up with him. Over 2012 and 2013, his final two seasons, Halladay tallied just 218.1 regular season innings, posting a 5.15 ERA. Injuries to his back and right shoulder plagued him at the tail end of his career.
Friday’s documentary went into how Halladay first began using opiods in 2012 in an attempt to finish out his three-year/$60 million deal that ran through 2013.
An article earlier this week from ESPN also suggested that at least some in the organization, including pitching coach Rich Dubee, were aware that Halladay was “glassy eyed” on at least two occasions in the clubhouse. Kyle Kendrick, who pitched for the team from 2007-2014, says he an another unnamed teammate approach a Phillies employee about the situation, but it’s not clear who that employee was and how much power they had to potentially do something. Dubee says he had a notable player “confront” Halladay about having been under the influence of drugs and says that nixed the situation. That may have simply caused Halladay to be more cautious with when and where he used the drugs, though.
Ruben Amaro Jr., the team’s general manager from 2009 to September of 2015, appeared on Friday’s edition of Locked On Phillies, and discussed the revelations, which are new to the public.
“He was a very quiet guy…he was very reticent about his doings…it’s one of those things where I don’t think a player would necessarily be discussing and so we had very little knowledge about what was happening. I think Roy didn’t want to make any excuses about what was happening and he wanted to try to perform at his optimum level. The natural order of progression for athletes is to try to do what they possibly can – hopefully in a legal way – to keep themselves from losing their edge.
“What happened to him towards the end, I didn’t really know too much about it, except when I found out a little bit later on about some of the things that went on…when I heard about the terrible accident…that there were some rumors about that kind of stuff and it’s really unfortunate.”
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