PHOENIX - A surgeon will cut into Roy Halladay's shoulder Wednesday, one day after the pitcher turns 36. Halladay, a self-labeled optimist, refuses to focus on the possibility he will never pitch again, not for the Phillies or any major-league team. He insists he will return before 2013 is over.
"It's too easy to look at the bad stuff," Halladay said.
But, if this is how it ends, Halladay had something he wanted to say. He called an impromptu meeting with reporters before Friday's game at Chase Field and spoke for eight minutes. He thanked Phillies fans for their support. He apologized to the ones angered by his decision to pitch while hurt.
"I just want the fans to know that I'm thinking about them," Halladay said. "I don't take that for granted. I don't take playing for Philadelphia for granted."
Halladay has a partially torn rotator cuff and fraying of his labrum caused by a bone spur in his right shoulder. He said he first felt the pain following his start against Pittsburgh on April 24. He started two games after that and allowed 17 runs in six innings. The Phillies lost both games by identical 14-2 scores.
The arthroscopic surgery will be performed in Los Angeles by Neal ElAttrache, orthopedist to sports stars. If the damage is what doctors believe it is, Halladay thinks he can pitch again in three months. Given the history of shoulder injuries to pitchers his age, that is a decidedly positive view. Halladay, who will earn $20 million in 2013, is a free agent at season's end.
He spoke Friday like a man at peace.
"It's tough," Halladay said. "You feel an obligation to the organization, to your teammates, to the fans to try to go out and pitch. Especially on a competitive team that sells out. For me, that was a big factor. If I'm playing for a last-place team, and there's things going on, you maybe speak up. But we have a chance to go win a World Series, and we have sellouts, and fans have expectations. You want to do everything you can to try to make it work.
"Really, that was a lot of the reason I tried to keep going. . . . I just wanted to reach out to the fans, thank them for their support, and apologize to the ones who pay the money and show up in the second inning and it's 9-0. I apologize to the fans that I won't be out there for three months."
Halladay said he thought about issuing a message for "the last couple of days." He said he did not need to apologize to his teammates because they understood. Whether a public apology was even required is debatable; Halladay provided Phillies fans with countless memories since his arrival in 2010.
He felt it important to recognize the team's fans.
"I understand that some people are upset, and that's fine, that's a part of it," Halladay said. "I'm not trying to sway their opinion. If they don't like me, they don't like me. That's fine. I think they mean a lot to the organization; they mean a lot to Philadelphia. We couldn't do what we do here without them spending their money to come see games. I think that sometimes gets overlooked in sports. They're a big part of the team success."
When he finished talking, Halladay stood up. He walked to the corner of the first-base dugout at Chase Field and signed two autographs. "I have to go, guys," he told more seekers. And with that, Roy Halladay disappeared into the clubhouse.