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Doc Halladay back in Toronto uni, just long enough to retire as a Jay

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TORONTO -- In the end, Roy Halladay went back to his major-league roots.

Halladay signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday that allowed the veteran right-hander to retire as a member of team with which he broke into the majors and spent the bulk of his distinguished 16-year career.

Halladay made the announcement at a news conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., site of the baseball meetings.

"As most people know, I was very lucky to have a lot of people in the organization really develop and help me become the player I was able to become," Halladay said at a press conference . "And (with) the organization and the support of the organization, from the front office to the coaches to the players, it really turned my career around and it made a big difference in my career and that's why I'm very fortunate to retire as a Blue Jay."

Halladay spent his final four major-league seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies and went to great lengths to express his sincere gratitude to that organization and its fans. However, he also said he wouldn't have been able to get a shot with a World Series contender if not for the Blue Jays.

"I want the Phillies organization to know, I want the fans to know how much I enjoyed my time there. How much they meant to me, how much they meant to my family and what a major part of my career they were," he said.

"But to me the biggest thing was had I not been fortunate enough to come up with the Blue Jays and have the people around me that I did and have the people develop me that I did I would've never had that chance."

Halladay was drafted 17th overall by Toronto in 1995 and made his major-league debut with an innocuous but telling two games three years later as a September call-up.

His first game as a Blue Jay was unremarkable. In a five-inning start against the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays he gave up three runs and a homer but earned a 7-5 win.

A week later, Halladay went the distance against Detroit. His stat line reads like what Toronto fans would come to expect: nine innings, eight strikeouts, no walks and just run, a homer in the ninth inning of a 2-1 victory.

The dominant starter, however, wouldn't emerge until after several ugly seasons that involved an important trip to the minors. A serviceable season in '99 led to a disastrous 2000 when he finished with a 10.64 earned-run average in just 67 innings pitched.

That was the turning point for Halladay. Instead of giving up on him, Toronto sent him to single-A Dunedin in '01 to rebuild his pitching mechanics. He was promoted through double- and triple-A until returning to the Blue Jays on July 2.

His first game back was ugly -- six runs allowed over two-plus innings of relief against Boston. But Toronto kept him in the majors and he started every game the rest of the season, finishing with a complete-game shutout against Cleveland for a respectable 3.16 ERA.

"There was a period of time I didn't know what was going to happen," Halladay said. "Where I probably wasn't as positive as I could be about what my future was going to be."

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2013 D5

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