He worked hard for it.
Halladay, who struck out three in two scoreless innings in a 3-2 Phillies victory over the Yankees in Philadelphia's Grapefruit League opener, started his offseason workouts at Bright House Field just a few days after the Phils acquired him in a Dec. 16 three-team trade with the Blue Jays and Mariners. Not long after that, he met with Philadelphia pitching coach Rich Dubee, who drove up from his home in Sarasota, Fla., to talk about Halladay's Spring Training routine.
It was then that Halladay pulled out a binder.
Halladay had documented everything he had done in Spring Trainings past. The notes included how many pitches he had thrown in his first Grapefruit League starts, how many pitches he had thrown in between starts and how many pitches he had thrown in warmups.
Everything Halladay did, he had carefully recorded.
"There's not much that goes by this guy that he doesn't know or hasn't prepared to be ready for," Dubee said.
Dubee said he has not seen many pitchers do this, although Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer is one of them.
"These two guys are pretty unique," Dubee said. "They're what you'd really love to send down to the Minor League kids and say, 'There is preparation, but this is what preparation and having a solid plan is all about.'
"These guys are as good professionals you can be around. They're very accountable for themselves. There's no excuse made. They're very accountable for what they're going to accomplish each day."
Halladay accomplished a lot Thursday, and he accomplished it quickly. He threw just 24 pitches in two innings against the Yankees.
Twenty-one were strikes.
Halladay worked so efficiently that he needed to throw 10 to 12 more pitches in the bullpen just to build up his arm strength for his next start.
And after that? Halladay got on the elliptical machine for about 30 minutes for a cardio workout. After that, he worked out for another hour. In fact, Halladay did not emerge for his postgame interview until the game had reached the top of the ninth inning.
"You watch the way Chase [Utley] prepares, the way Raul [Ibanez] prepares -- there is no goofing around," Halladay said. "Even last night [against Florida State], there's no goofing around. They come out to play. That's fun to see."
The Yankees were impressed. They also were thankful. New York faced Halladay five times last season, and the right-hander is 18-6 against the club in his career. The Phillies and Yankees will meet once this season, a three-game series in June at Yankee Stadium. Unless the rotation lines up ideally in June or the two clubs have a rematch in the 2010 World Series, they could miss Halladay completely this season.
"I think it will be a pretty easy transition for him," said Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia, Halladay's opponent on Thursday. "He'll like facing the [Nos.] 7-8-9 guys in the National League. The type of pitcher he is, I expect him to go out and be even better than he was with the Blue Jays."
Halladay has been arguably the best pitcher in baseball since 2002. He has averaged just 14.3 pitches per inning in that span, which shows how aggressive he is in the strike zone. His average ranks second in baseball in that span.
Only Greg Maddux was better. He averaged 13.5 pitches per inning.
"He's a strike-throwing machine that knows how to locate with movement," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's impressive."
Thursday was a big day for Phillies fans. They finally got to see Halladay pitch in their uniform, and they got to see him dominate the Yankees -- albeit in a meaningless Spring Training game without Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.
But Halladay said he enjoyed the experience. His family enjoyed it, too. Halladay let it slip that his 9-year-old son Braden skipped school to watch his father's Phillies debut.
No worries. Braden probably won't be the last person to miss some school or work or back out of a family function this season to watch Halladay pitch.
Phillies fans are excited to see Halladay work. They got their first taste on Thursday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less