CLEARWATER — Ready or not, Roy Halladay's next start will count. The right-hander allowed two runs over 4⅓ innings for the Phillies in a 7-2 win over the Blue Jays on Thursday.
The two-time Cy Young winner had not pitched in a major-league game since March 17, when he left after one inning due to a stomach virus. (He pitched in a minor-league game Saturday.) And he had allowed 12 runs, 22 hits and nine walks over his previous four starts.
"Physically, this is as good as I've felt coming out of spring training in probably five years as far as total body," said Halladay, set to start the season's second game. "Stuff-wise, I think location and movement, I'm just a click behind where I want to be."
Halladay struck out six. But at one point, he threw 11 balls among 12 pitches.
"I thought there were a lot of goods," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He's strong again. Today was a big upgrade."
Brown in left: Manager Charlie Manuel said Domonic Brown will start the season in leftfield. The former Pasco High standout, who has seven homers and 17 RBIs this spring, has seen time in left and right.
Yanks: Overbay at first
TAMPA — Lyle Overbay was with the Red Sox on Tuesday. Two days later, it looked as if he will be Yankees' starting first baseman on opening day.
"It's kind of been a whirlwind," Overbay said.
GM Brian Cashman said Overbay, signed after being released by Boston, has the inside track for the job with Mark Teixeira out until at least May with a wrist injury. And New York released Juan Rivera, who played extensively at first during the spring.
"Overbay, and what he's done in his career … we were just a little more comfortable," said manager Joe Girardi, who added 3B Kevin Youkilis could play first against left-handers with Jayson Nix playing third.
Logan scare: LH reliever Boone Logan left in the seventh after being hit on the left hip by a liner, but he said he was fine.
Jays: Shocked Romero
DUNEDIN — LHP Ricky Romero said he was shocked to be demoted to Class A Dunedin.
"It was definitely the last thing that I was expecting to hear," he said in his first comments since Tuesday's announcement. "I'm disappointed. You never want to get demoted like that, especially coming out of nowhere.
"But at the same time … I can't come here with a bad attitude. I'm coming here ready to work."
Romero expected to be the fifth starter. But GM Alex Anthopoulos wants him to implement mechanical changes.
"It hurts almost to where I don't want to watch opening day," Romero said. "I care for those guys. But at the same time, something inside of your gut, it doesn't feel right; especially being there the last four years."
Morrow better: RHP Brandon Morrow, the No. 2 starter, allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits over seven innings. In his previous five starts, he allowed 15 runs over 15 innings.