CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Roy Halladay insisted Tuesday that he is fine.
But is he really?
Halladay struggled terribly in 2 2/3 innings at Bright House Field against a lineup featuring mostly Detroit Tigers reserves. He allowed six hits, seven runs, four walks, one wild pitch, two home runs and one hit batsman. Halladay lacked tempo and command throughout the start. He also lacked velocity. One scout said Halladay's fastball hit just 86-88 mph on the radar gun. Other reports had gun readings clocking his fastball a mile or two less than that.
Halladay's velocity has dropped since his first two Grapefruit League starts, when he sat in the 89-91 mph range. It dropped into the 86-88 mph range in his third start before sitting in about the same area Tuesday. Halladay appears to be going in the wrong direction with Opening Day just 20 days away.
"The good part is, there's no soreness," Halladay said. "Nothing hurts."
Halladay blamed his troubling performance on lethargy. He said a completely revamped, more intense workout program, plus throwing two bullpen sessions in between starts, contributed to his lackluster performance.
"I think I've always been a lot harder on myself than any of you guys have ever been. I can promise you that," he said. "You also are aware of what's going on, and it's hard to explain sometimes how you're feeling, what you're working on, what you're going through, what you're trying to do. When you know in your head what's going on, it's a lot different.
"So the results aren't satisfying -- that's obvious -- but I think the work we've done, there's been a lot of progress made. Unfortunately, we got to a point where we've done so much throwing that I really kind of just felt lethargic. … I'll trade that any day of the week, feeling lethargic over being sore like last Spring Training."
But manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee expressed concern about Halladay. The Phillies entered camp last month counting on a healthier Halladay to bolster the rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
"Yeah, it concerns me," said Manuel, when asked about Halladay's unusual lack of command. "But at the same time, I've been in the game long enough to know that if there's nothing wrong with him, you keep working with him. If he's healthy and well and there's nothing wrong with him, then he's got to get stretched out and everything. … He said he's healthy. He said he feels good. Said there's nothing wrong with him physically."
"I would say there's some concern, but I would say a lot of it has to do with having no tempo to his delivery," said Dubee, when asked about Halladay's velocity.
Halladay, who also got in trouble with his cutter, thinks he will be fine once he begins to monitor his workload more closely and gets into his normal five-day routine in preparation for the season.
"Well, we have a plan, and I'm still trying to build," he said. "I think that the throwing is going to be a little less in between, but I'm going to try to continue to build for another week or so as much as I can in the weight room and things like that. I'm going to try to continue to get stronger so I get to a level where I feel I can maintain it throughout the season. To me, that's what Spring Training is for.
"I'm trying to use this time as best as I can to prepare myself for the season. And it's going to cost you sometimes. It cost me today. But that's fine if I have the results I hope to have during the season because of the preparation we've put in, that it worked. So, that's when we find out. Right now, I'm not real concerned with the numbers and results, as long as I feel like we're progressing in the right direction."
The Phils are praying that Halladay is right. But can Halladay return to the pitcher he was in 2010-11, or is the hope only that he can make a slight improvement over last season?
"I don't know where he is going to get back to," Dubee said. "I don't. Who does? I don't have a crystal ball, but I know that his work ethic is still there, his desire is still there, so I'll take my chances."
"I don't know if he'll ever get back to where he was three years ago, but he'll be good enough to win a lot of games in the big leagues," Manuel said. "I've seen pitchers come to Spring Training and have a hard time getting going. I've seen it over and over. If he finds it, I think he'll definitely be better."
Halladay has less than three weeks to find it.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.