Toronto Blue Jays begin auditions for next Roy Halladay

DUNEDIN — The Blue Jays' post-Roy Halladay era began Monday, with the first workout for pitchers and catchers.

With Halladay traded to the Phillies after 12 years with Toronto, several as its staff ace, manager Cito Gaston entered camp having to ask a question he hadn't in years:

"Who's my No. 1?"

Halladay's locker at the Englebert Complex, between Scott Downs and Lyle Overbay, remained empty. While Halladay, a six-time All-Star nicknamed "Doc," leaves an inevitable void, it allows opportunities for some of the young Jays pitchers to step up and create their own identity.

Gaston said he even asked another coach during the pitchers' meeting, "I wonder if we have a couple of 'Docs' in here?"

"It sure would be nice," Gaston said, smiling. "Somewhere down the line, you never know. Maybe this is a chance for them to do that." But, as Gaston said, "It'd be nice if Doc was still here, too."

The top rotation candidates include Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brandon Morrow, Brian Tallet, Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski and Dustin McGowan, who is coming back from a shoulder injury.

"You never know what somebody's talent is going to do when they get called on," reliever Jesse Carlson said. "These guys need to be ready to come to spring ready to go and show everyone what they can do."

Phils: Lidge throws

CLEARWATER — Brad Lidge's first bullpen session of the spring drew plenty of observers. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wasn't one of them.

"The hitters are here," pitching coach Rich Dubee joked.

While Manuel watched Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and other players take their cuts, Lidge took his first step toward returning from offseason surgeries on his elbow and knee.

"We have to build some arm strength first, and the rest of my body is doing great," Lidge said. "I feel happy about that now."

Lidge threw 20 pitches, all fastballs, off a mound. Dubee said the closer will probably take two days off before throwing again.

Yanks: Still driven

TAMPA — Andy Pettitte gave serious thought to going out as a champion last year.

It turns out the left-hander, 37, wasn't quite ready to retire, even after the Yankees won the World Series.

"If I was ever going to go, why not go right now? Right on top," Pettitte said.

But he opted to return after talking with his family and signed an $11.75 million, one-year contract in December.

"I want to make sure. I don't want to go home and miss it," said Pettitte, who went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and helped the Yankees win their first world championship since 2000.

PARK JOINS PEN: RH reliever Chan Ho Park agreed to a one-year deal, he said. The Yankees did not announce the agreement, which reportedly was for $1.2 million plus $300,000 in incentives.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

First full-squad workout: Wednesday

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive,

Tampa

Phillies

First full-squad workout: Today

Where: Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Blue Jays

First full-squad workout: Friday

Where: Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin

Toronto Blue Jays begin auditions for next Roy Halladay 02/22/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 22, 2010 6:42pm]

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