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Halladay streak to end

CLEARWATER — It appears that Roy Halladay's streak of opening day starts is coming to an end.

Though Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee didn't name the starter for the April 1 game in Atlanta, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer the team is leaning toward splitting star LHPs Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.

That would mean that Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, would not start on opening day for the first time since 2002.

"I think it's how we line up best," Dubee told the Inquirer. "Realistically, we could pitch anybody the first day as far as Doc, Cole and Cliff. On most staffs, they are No. 1 starters, so they all could pitch opening day. But part of what we're thinking is trying to split those two lefties. Last year we started with two lefties (after Halladay) and I'd just like to split them up."

Halladay has started all three opening days since joining the Phillies before the 2010 season. Philadelphia has won all three.

Yanks: Hughes to rest

TAMPA — Yankees RHP Phil Hughes has upper back stiffness and will be sidelined for a few days.

"There's always a little bit of concern, but it's upper back by his shoulder blades, so we'll see how he is in a couple days," manager Joe Girardi said. "You're usually more concerned about the lower (back problem) lingering. The good thing is he was ahead of where he'd probably normally be at this time, which helps."

Hughes was hurt Monday during a defensive drill covering first base.

Closer Mariano Rivera threw 36 pitches during his third bullpen session, and is ready to face batters for the first time since May.

Jays: Johnson adapts

DUNEDIN — RHP Josh Johnson lost some velocity last season. He hopes that makes him a better pitcher.

Johnson, acquired by the Blue Jays in a blockbuster deal with the Marlins, said he changed his approach when he realized he could no longer overpower hitters. Primarily, he started to use a curveball for the first time in many years.

"I learned how to pitch," Johnson told mlb.com. "Sometimes I could get by with just throwing, blowing it by guys. Now I locate a lot better or slow him down to get the ball by him and miss bats."

Johnson threw a curve when the Marlins drafted him in 2004 but scrapped it within a couple of years as the organization wanted him to focus on his slider.

Last season, when a fastball that had averaged 95 mph in 2009 dipped to 92, the curve helped him post a solid 3.81 ERA in 31 starts.

EX-PITCHER RETURNS: Former RHP Paul Quantrill joined the Blue Jays as a consultant.

.Fast Facts

Blue Jays

Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin

Tickets: (727) 733-0429, bluejays.com

Phillies

Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Tickets: (727) 467-4457, phillies.com

Yankees

Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive (corner Martin Luther King and Dale Mabry), Tampa Tickets: (813) 879-2244, yankees.com

Halladay streak to end 02/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 9:10pm]
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