07/01/11 6:32 PM ET
Halladay greeted with ovation at Rogers Centre
By Arden Zwelling / MLB.com
Halladay pitched the first 12 seasons of his career in Toronto, representing the Blue Jays at seven All-Star Games and winning the American League Cy Young Award in 2003 when he went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA.
The 34-year-old will take the mound for the Phillies on Saturday in what will surely be an emotional day for fans and players alike.
"When I think about the great players that I played with here, Doc is right at the top of the list. Reflecting back on that, years from now, I think you're pretty proud that you were able to step on the field with a guy like that," said Blue Jays shortstop John McDonald, who played five seasons with Halladay. "Everybody in the city was sad when he left -- the players, staff, front office. ... He did some really great things here on and off the field."
Off-day cut short, Hill thrives at plate
TORONTO -- Slumping Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill was originally given a day off Friday as he continues his season-long search for the home run swing that made him an All-Star and Silver Slugger recipient in 2009.
But Hill was forced into action nearly immediately, when Yunel Escobar left the game in the first inning with an apparent hand injury. Hill entered as a pinch-runner and scored on Edwin Encarnacion's two-run double. Hill remained in the game at second base, while John McDonald shifted to shortstop.
Hill finished the game with two hits in four at-bats, scoring three runs.
"I know, even if you were to ask Aaron, he's certainly not pleased with where he's at today," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said prior to the game.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Hill -- who snapped an 0-for-14 streak with a ninth-inning triple Thursday -- hit .235 (23-for-98) in June with two home runs and seven RBIs. That lowered his season average to .239 as he entered Friday and gave him just three home runs on the year after hitting 26 last season and 36 in 2009. His two hits against the Phillies bumped his average to .243 for the season.
Farrell has said for weeks that he thinks Hill is trying too hard to hit home runs, which is negatively affecting his swing
"I see a guy, at times, trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. That can lead to some tension," Farrell said. "You see the ability to create a little bit more pull power when he's not trying as opposed to when he is trying. That's when any hitter or any pitcher loses velocity -- when they try to overthrow and try to overswing the bat."
Farrell did say he was happy with how Hill has used more of the field when at the plate instead of strictly pulling the ball to left field. Hill has hit several balls to the right-center-field gap, which he hasn't attacked as frequently in previous years.
Of course, the byproduct of spreading the ball around the diamond has seemed to be a decrease in power, as Hill is currently on pace for just a single-digit total in home runs, his lowest since 2008 when he played just 55 games.
"I see a guy who continually puts himself in a position to try to square up baseballs and make hard contact," Farrell said. "Whether or not they go out of the ballpark -- that's just the byproduct of a good swing and being relaxed and confident in the box."
Farrell said he would be looking to give several players days off here and there as the team heads toward the All-Star break playing 10 games in a row. The team will finish its three-game Interleague series with the Phillies on Sunday before heading out for a three-game set in Boston followed by a four-game series in Cleveland leading into the break.
"A day can help every guy, when selected at the right time," Farrell said. "We'll look to do that with as many guys as we can going forward through these next 10 days."
Escobar day to day after injuring hand on HBP
TORONTO -- Yunel Escobar was listed as day to day after leaving a 7-6 loss on Friday afternoon with an injury suffered when he was hit on the top of the left hand by Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick.
Escobar had an X-ray and CAT scan on his hand during the game, both of which came back negative for fractures. The hand was considerably swollen and it is very unlikely that Escobar will play Saturday afternoon against the Phillies.
"We'll have to take it day by day at this point," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Escobar -- the Blue Jays' first batter of the game -- worked a 1-1 count before Kendrick ran a pitch high and inside that hit the shortstop.
The 28-year-old Cuban was in considerable discomfort and spoke at length with both Farrell and head trainer George Poulis on the field before leaving the game.
Aaron Hill came in to pinch-run and took over at second base, while John McDonald moved over to shortstop. Hill scored later in the inning on Edwin Encarnacion's two-run double and finished the game 2-for-4.
Escobar -- who recently signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Blue Jays -- finished the day hitting .289 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs.
Blue Jays get good news on Drabek, Snider
TORONTO -- Thursday night's game report from Triple-A Las Vegas brought a pair of encouraging signs for Blue Jays manager John Farrell, as Travis Snider returned to action and Kyle Drabek pitched well.
Snider -- sent down in late April to rework his swing -- played his first game in nearly two weeks after suffering a concussion when he was clipped by a pitch on the brim of his helmet on June 17. The 23-year-old played designated hitter Thursday and went 0-for-3 with a walk.
"The timing seemed to be pretty good," Farrell said. "He swung the bat with some aggressiveness and some decent timing. It was a good first day to get back in there."
Snider said he felt fine after the game and that he did not experience any concussion symptoms. He is expected to resume playing in the field either Friday or Saturday, likely in center field.
Kyle Drabek also had an encouraging night Thursday, allowing just one run on six hits over six innings while striking out six.
It was by far Drabek's best start since being sent down midway through June to work on his mechanics. He lasted just two-thirds of an inning his last time out, allowing five runs on four hits and walking three. In the outing before that, Drabek lasted four innings but gave up four earned runs on eight hits while walking seven.
For Farrell, Thursday night's start was one of the most encouraging from Drabek in some time.
"He pitched ahead in the count a whole lot more. His changeup was much more effective. He has a much higher percentage of strikes," Farrell said. "A good turnaround from his last couple outings."
The club has asked Drabek to back off from throwing his cutter and to focus on his fastball, changeup and curveball mix in order to improve his effectiveness. Farrell was happy with how Drabek threw his fastball and changeup Thursday but is still looking for a higher strike percentage from the curveball.
"I think the fact that he's pitching with a conventional pitch mix, and not the cutter, is emphasizing the need to throw strikes with his fastball which he did last night," Farrell said. "His fastball is going to be the pitch that's thrown most frequently here, and we've got to refine that particular pitch. Not just to one side of the plate, but to have overall command with it, and last night he did that."
Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind was voted the Honda Player of the Month for June by the Toronto chapter of the BBWAA, capturing all but one of the first-place votes. Lind hit .311 (28-for-90) in the month with nine home runs and 22 RBIs. Starting pitcher Ricky Romero, who went 2-3 with a 2.50 ERA in the month, finished second in voting.
Canadian Paralympian Rick Hansen threw out the first pitch on Friday afternoon as part of Canada Day festivities at Rogers Centre. Hansen is a three-time Paralympic Games gold medalist from British Columbia who travelled around the world in his wheelchair in 1985 and '86 to raise money for spinal cord research. Hansen travelled more than 40,000 km through 34 countries on four continents, raising $26 million in the process.
Jose Bautista's 24 home runs this year entering Friday matched his total from last season after 88 games heading into the All-Star break. Bautista went on a tear after the break last season, hitting 30 home runs in his final 73 games to finish with a Major League-best 54.
Arden Zwelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.