TORONTO — Impressed? Yes. Surprised? No way.
“Not at all,” said Shaun Marcum, who congratulated Roy Halladay by text message after his illustrious ex-teammate pitched a perfect game Saturday night.
Marcum, who took over as the No. 1 starter after the Toronto Blue Jays traded Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies during the off-season, spoke for the majority in the Jays’ clubhouse Sunday. Halladay may be a revelation to National League fans, but his brilliance is old hat to his old mates.
Perfection, some said, was just a matter of time.
“What took him so long?” asked outfielder Vernon Wells, only half-jokingly.
“We’ve seen those pitches for years,” said infielder John McDonald, a Halladay teammate for the better part of five seasons. “He’s been dominant against the best teams in the American League, so I’m not surprised that he’s dominant in that league.”
Halladay set down all 27 Florida Marlins he faced in a historic 1-0 victory in Miami. Less than 12 hours later, he was back at the ballpark ahead of his teammates, working out.
Jays manager Cito Gaston left a congratulatory phone call after watching the final nine outs of Halladay’s masterpiece.
“You feel happy for Doc because you know Doc,” Gaston said. “You know all the effort he puts into his preparation to do the sort of things that he does.
“He’s a no-nonsense man when it comes to the baseball season. He’s here, he’s working, he works on off-days at the ballpark. I’m really happy and proud of him.”
Jays pitcher Ricky Romero was talking proud too after his second complete game Sunday in a 6-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Halladay served as his inspiration to finish what he started, he said.
“That’s what you aim for every time out there,” Romero said. “There was a guy here that did it really, really well and you try to learn from that.”
But Romero will summon no sentiment if Halladay pitches against the Jays during the June 25-27 series, which was famously moved to Philadelphia to accommodate the G20 summit.
“I’m sure everyone here’s happy for Doc, but we’ve got to take care of our business,” Romero said. “He’s our enemy now. Whenever we face him, we gotta beat him.”