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Roy Halladay will pitch in minor-league game Saturday

With less than two weeks until meaningful baseball, the Phillies are easing Roy Halladay along. He will start in a minor-league game Saturday.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Morning bled into afternoon Wednesday and Roy Halladay worked in an empty weight room at Bright House Field. This was a scheduled off day for his teammates, but after a stomach virus robbed Halladay of strength and mound time, there was no rest.

Halladay wants to start the second game of the 2013 season on April 3. He threw a bullpen session Wednesday morning. He will start a minor-league game Saturday in Clearwater rather than appear in the Grapefruit League game in Sarasota that day.

With less than two weeks until meaningful baseball, the Phillies are easing Halladay along.

"Roy threw very well," pitching coach Rich Dubee said through a team spokesman. "He lost almost 10 pounds, so he's just got to gain some weight back and get his strength."

The Phillies, of course, are under no obligation to start Halladay in the season's second game. If Halladay pitches Saturday, his next turn would be March 28, the final exhibition game in Florida. He could then start April 3 on an extra day of rest.

Halladay said Tuesday his goal is to throw 75 pitches Saturday and then approach 100 in his next outing. As it stands, he would face major-league hitters once more this spring before the regular season.

Usually, that would not be an issue for the 35-year-old ace pitcher. But this is hardly a typical spring for Halladay, whose illness only compounded concern for his physical state. The team has insisted Halladay is otherwise healthy. He was excited to apply mechanical adjustments only for the sickness to shorten his last start to one inning.

On Saturday, he will test it against a bunch of minor-league hitters.

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