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Jays jump on Halladay - but real fireworks set for June

Roy Halladay doesn't do touchy-feely, so it was predictable that he would be as dispassionate about facing his former Toronto Blue Jays teammates as he was dryly analytical about getting whacked around Bright House Field by them.

And just to show you that things haven't changed all that much, he is still fiddling around with his changeup.

"The eternal search," he was told after the Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2. "Yeah …" he responded, with a laugh and a shake of the head.

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In his final Grapefruit League tune-up before the Phillies opener, Halladay threw 52 pitches over three innings, giving up five hits and four earned runs - all of the runs in the first inning, two of them on a home run by Aaron Hill.

He groused about not being aggressive, about "guiding pitches," and grudgingly acknowledged that it was "good to get it [facing his old team]out of the way," before his return to the Rogers Centre for an inter-league series late in June.

And goodness knows that's going to be a grand occasion, what with the police barricades and protesters and protective fences and such.

Halladay's return, after all, is scheduled for the same time as G20 leaders are scheduled to be meeting at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which is right next door to the Rogers Centre. Downtown blocked off? Protesters … toss in another, what 40,000 folks going to a baseball game? What's not to like?

It is hardly a laughing matter to Paul Beeston, the chief executive officer of the Blue Jays and the Rogers Centre. Nobody's suggesting the series be moved - although commissioner Bud Selig is being kept aware of the situation.

Getting people to and from the game with large swaths of the city purposely blocked off to prevent large groups of people from circulating will be a logistical nightmare.

"There are some issues to be resolved," Beeston said Wednesday, without going into detail. "Hopefully we can get them resolved very soon."

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It was fitting that the Blue Jays faced their old ace Wednesday, because it was a day when their pitching picture was cleared up - intentionally and unintentionally. Jason Frasor was formally named the Blue Jays closer to open the season, but manager Cito Gaston added a caveat by saying he would not use him three days in a row to close and would instead go with Kevin Gregg or Scott Downs on that third day. Either way, Gaston said, he would "like to limit each one of them to an inning each outing." That was the planned move. Not planned was Marc Rzepczynski's fractured left middle finger that will see him not pitch for at least six weeks. Rzepczynski suffered the injury Tuesday night in Tampa when the New York Yankees' Ramon Pena wired a drive off Rzepczynski's hand - the second time in as many starts he'd instinctively reached with his bare hand and been hit.

Rzepczynski, who referred to the injury as a "little finger-tip-type fracture," and "annoying" more than anything else, has not had a good spring in any way, shape or form, and since he has options left, he was going to be hard-pressed to avoid going down to the minor leagues. But the move means that Brett Cecil - who gave up six hits and struck out four and allowed both runs in six innings - and Dana Eveland and Brian Tallet are lined up for the final two spots in the rotation, operating under the assumption Brandon Morrow's arm has responded well to a minor league start.

Whoever gets the rotation spots will not be throwing to catcher Raul Chavez, who was reassigned to minor league camp. Tallet is scheduled to start Thursday's Grapefruit League finale against the New York Yankees, Morrow is scheduled to work an exhibition game Saturday in Houston and there is a chance, now, that the pitching situation won't resolve itself until the 25-man roster needs to be set on Sunday.

No surprise, there. Flexibility in the rotation from the top down will be the watch word for a team that has tabbed a guy coming off surgery - Shaun Marcum, who tuned up with a 66-pitch, five-inning outing in the minor league camp - as its opening-day starter.

Adam Lind told that Halladay looked "thinner" than he expected, and postulated it might be the red uniform. Vernon Wells said Halladay wished him a "nice year" after he flied out. I know this: I'm going to miss the metronome.

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