READING - Someone last night described pitcher Kyle Drabek as the "linchpin" in a trade that could possibly bring Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies.
But Drabek said he tried to put that kind of talk aside as he pitched what could be his last game in a Reading Phillies uniform.
"You know they are there," Drabek said of the stable of Blue Jays scouts who immediately left the ball park after he was taken out of the game at the end of the seventh inning. "You're looking right at them."
At the time of his departure, double-A Reading was leading Portland, 4-2. The Phils went on to win, 4-3.
In what was obviously a showcase for the Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians scouts before Friday's trading deadline, Drabek threw 94 pitches, 62 for strikes. His fastball reached 96 m.p.h. He struck out six and walked none while yielding seven hits. The two runs he gave up - one on Ryan Kalish's first-inning home run - were both earned.
"That was my fastball," said Drabek, who has been named among the players Toronto wants in order to make the trade for Halladay. The Blue Jays also put pitcher J.A. Happ and minor-league outfielder Dominic Brown in the initial asking price.
Asked if he had turned to his father, former major-league pitcher Doug Drabek, for advice on how to deal with the trade talk, the younger Drabek said his advice was simple: "Try not to think about," the righthander said.
Asked if he expected to remain in a Phillies uniform, Drabek replied: "Whatever happens happens," he said. "I sure hope so. I like it here."
Drabek, who underwent Tommy John surgery in the middle of the 2008 season, said his throwing arm is fine.
"It's been great, although I've never pitched this many innings in a season before," said Drabek, whose compact pitching style resembles that of former Mets star Tom Seaver.
Drabek has pitched 67.2 innings for Reading after being called up in May from the single-A Clearwater Threshers. He is currently 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA after last night's win.
Last season, Drabek made eight starts, four for the Gulf Coast Phillies and four for Williamsport of the New York-Penn League.
It's easy to see why the Blue Jays want Drabek in their future. The Phillies selected him out of Woodlands High School (Texas) in the first round of the 2006 first-year player draft, and he entered this season ranked as the fifth-best prospect in the Phillies' minor-league system by Baseball America.