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Halladay driven to pitch in the playoffs

Former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay works out with his new team as pitchers and catcher officially report to Spring Training at the Philadelphia Phillies' training facility in Clearwater, FL, February 18, 2010.

Darren Calabrese

Knowing that the Philadelphia Phillies came up short in their initial attempt to trade for him during the regular season and then watching as the Phillies made it all the way to the World Series was a bitter pill for Roy Halladay to swallow.

And with A..J. Burnett, his good friend and former Toronto teammate, helping to pitch the New York Yankees to a six-game Series victory over the Phillies, it was all Halladay could do to even turn on the television to watch.

"It was harder than most years watching … just seeing the way things unfolded," Halladay said yesterday. "It was tough for me because during the season you hate to get too caught up in it. I never wanted to look forward to going somewhere other than Toronto.

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"But knowing that things had gotten close and the team I felt I had the best chance to go to was actually in the World Series, that made it tough. Not only that, one of your friends is pitching against them. It was a lot of mixed feelings."

Halladay is hoping his days of watching the postseason unfold on television are over now that the Phillies' dogged pursuit of the quality right-hander ended successfully last December with a three-team, nine-player swap that finally landed the 32-year-old in Philadelphia.

With the Phillies having competed in the past two World Series - winning it in 2008 against the Tampa Bay Rays - the smart money is on them getting there for a third consecutive season with an already solid starting rotation bolstered by the acquisition of one of the game's premier pitchers.

Halladay's strong desire to pitch in the playoffs was the primary reason he agreed to waive his no-trade clause and leave the Blue Jays after 12 seasons without so much as a single postseason appearance.

"I think, for me, that's the ultimate," he said. "Obviously there's no guarantee, but that's the driving force for me right now.

"For me it was never about changing teammates, changing environments, changing cities. It was about wanting to pitch in October. That's what I look forward to here the most."

Spring training opened for the Phillies here at Bright House Networks Field on Wednesday but team officials shielded Halladay from the media until yesterday, when he spoke to a group of reporters for close to 30 minutes.

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The Florida facilities of the Blue Jays and the Phillies are only a few miles apart and Halladay, whose off-season residence is in nearby Odessa, was asked what spring-training habits he has had to change coming to a new team.

"I'm used to turning right on Main Street and now I get to go straight," he responded.

"It's the good thing about him," remarked Pat Gillick earlier in the day. "Success hasn't spoiled him."

Gillick, the former Blue Jays general manager during the World Series victories of 1992 and 1993, was still with the Jays in a scouting capacity in 1995 when Halladay was chosen by Toronto in the first round of the draft.

Gillick is now a senior adviser to Phillies president Dave Montgomery.

Gillick scouted Halladay on a couple of occasions heading up to last season's July 31 trade deadline when the Phillies were first pushing hard to swing a deal for the right-hander.

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"I saw him a couple of times before the trading deadline and he'll be going along with nobody on base throwing 90 to 92," Gillick said. "He gets somebody on base, he goes up 93 to 95. So he knows when to put it on and take it off.

"The amazing thing about him, you look at his walks. I mean, criminy, 30-something walks. He's consistent. That's what it's all about, being consistent."

Halladay allowed only 35 walks in 32 starts for the Blue Jays in 2009, the second lowest total in the major leagues for pitchers who threw more than 200 innings.

"We like just good, old country baseball players," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "When we come to the ballpark, we look for guys to play and Roy sets that example because he will pitch."

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