Roy Halladay won't be back anytime soon

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Roy Halladay won't be back anytime soon

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay is expected to miss six to eight weeks because of a strained right shoulder, the latest major setback for the five-time NL East champions. Halladay was put on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, two days after he was hit hard and pulled from a start in St. Louis after just two innings because of shoulder soreness. The two-time Cy Young winner will be shut down for a minimum of three weeks, then work toward rejoining the rotation, Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. Proefrock said tests done in Philadelphia indicated Halladay doesn't need surgery to recover and that the injury doesn't affect his rotator cuff. "We hate to have him down, but it's nothing that requires anything other than rest," Proefrock said. Halladay is 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 11 starts. He has pitched at least 220 innings in each of the past six seasons, and four times led the league in innings. His 72 1-3 innings this year tied Houston's Wandy Rodriguez for the NL lead. The move with Halladay, which came two years to the day since he pitched a perfect game in Florida, was made retroactive to Monday. Catcher Erik Kratz was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Minutes before the injury was announced as a Grade IGrade II strain of the latissimus dorsi, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he thought Halladay needed a break. Halladay has "thrown a lot of bullets over his career," Manuel said, suggesting the 35-year-old pitcher could step back for a bit and still be dominant. The durable Halladay had not been on the DL because of shoulder trouble since 2004. "He's got to get well," Manuel said. The injury came with the Phillies at 26-24 and tied with Atlanta for last in the division, four games behind Washington. Philadelphia has managed to stay close minus All-Star hitters Ryan Howard (Achilles tendon) and Chase Utley (knee), who haven't played at all this season. Manuel said he harbored hope that his slugging first baseman and smooth-fielding second baseman would be back at some point this year. As for Halladay's absence, "it would hurt us," Manuel said. "How much, I really don't know." The Phillies have relied on their pitching, particularly their rotation, to stick solidly in contention. Vance Worley, who is on the DL and hasn't started since May 11 because of elbow trouble, threw his first bullpen session since the injury before Tuesday's game. Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick remain in the rotation, and there are a few potential replacements at Triple-A, including former big leaguers Dave Bush and Scott Elarton. Any chance for Philadelphia to sign former Phillies star Roy Oswalt as a possible addition ended when the free agent reached a deal with Texas later Tuesday. "Yeah, we can always use pitching," Manuel said, while adding, "I'm not telling (GM) Ruben Amaro to get another." Halladay initially felt discomfort in his shoulder last Tuesday in a start against Washington but worked through it. He cut back on his throwing regimen before his next outing, but was tagged by Yadier Molina's grand slam in St. Louis. Halladay began the season by throwing eight strong innings in a 1-0 win at Pittsburgh on opening day and seemed fine until blowing a 6-0 lead against Atlanta on May 2. He's 1-3 since then and the Phillies have lost four of his five starts. The eight-time All-Star came to the Phillies in a trade with Toronto before the 2010 season and got a 60 million, three-year contract. Halladay pitched a perfect game against the Marlins in that first season with Philadelphia, and later that year threw a no-hitter against Cincinnati in his first career postseason outing. The Phillies won the 2008 World Series and hoped to capture another crown after adding Halladay. But Philadelphia lost to the eventual champion San Francisco Giants in the 2010 NL championship series, then Halladay lost to Chris Carpenter and St. Louis 1-0 in the deciding Game 5 of the 2011 division series.

Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

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Bruins bouncing between left wings Schaller and Spooner on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It certainly doesn’t feel like it will go on forever this way for the Bruins, but at this point it’s essentially a case of musical left wings on the David Krejci line as it’s been for much of this season. 

Ryan Spooner has spent the majority of the season adjusting to playing the wing with Krejci, and has been just okay trying to play away from his natural center spot while using his speed and playmaking on the wing. But the speedy Spooner also spent his share of time lately on the fourth line after getting off to a slow offensive start this season with three goals and eight points along with a minus-1 rating in 23 games. 

The bouncing between the second and fourth line has undoubtedly been frustrating for the 24-year-old getting pushed off his natural position after posting 49 points in his first full year as a third line center. But Spooner has continued to toe the company line, work on keeping his confidence high for a productive offensive season and do what he needs to in an effort to get off a fourth line.

That’s opened the door for hard-nosed former Providence College standout Tim Schaller to get some top-6 forward time on the Krejci line as well, but he’s just posted a single assist in the last three games while working hard to keep up offensively with David Krejci and David Backes. The 6-foot-2, 219-pound Schaller has the grittiness to do the dirty work for that line in the corners and in front of the net, and he can certainly skate well enough for a big, energy forward. 

“To think this was going to happen, I would say ‘no’,” said Schaller when asked if he could have predicted at the start of the season that he’d be getting a look from the B’s in a top-6 role. “I’ve been able to play with whoever and whenever my whole career. I wouldn’t want to say it’s one of those things that I had expected, but I’m always ready for it. 

“We’ve been working pretty well together. I don’t know that we’ve had too many great [offensive] opportunities to capitalize on, but Backes and Krejci are good enough players that they’ll come. They’re good enough to bury on those chances, so the goals will come. I’m always going to play the same way no matter who I’m with. Those guys might have the puck on their sticks a little longer than other linemates of mine, but that will just create more space and opportunities.”

So Spooner and Schaller bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table as the B’s coaching staff searches for the right fit alongside Krejci and Backes, and Julien sounds like a coach that’s going to keep swinging back and forth between the two players. He certainly did that with Spooner during the third period in Philly, which led to an immediate goal for Krejci in the third period comeback, and toward the end of the Carolina win with the B's desperate for offense. 

Julien also didn’t rule out Matt Beleskey getting another look there as well with the Bruins having a tough time finding anybody to consistently fill Loui Eriksson’s role from last season.

“At times I don’t think that offense has been producing much because maybe it’s lacking a little bit of speed at that time, so you put Spooner back up there. But sometimes you feel like that line isn’t winning enough battles or spending enough time in the offensive zone, so you put Schaller back in there because he’s going to play a little grittier. So we’re looking there,” said Julien. “We’d love to be able to find somebody to be a consistent player there. We’ve had Matt Beleskey there and that line never really did anything. 

“[Beleskey] has been much better on the [third] line and he’s been getting more chances, so I’ve been trying to put the best scenario together, I guess. Sometimes it’s the situation and sometimes it’s the matchup [against the other team] as well. So there are different reasons for that. I’ve just got to make it work. If it’s working with [Schaller] on that night then you stick with it, and if you don’t think you’re getting enough then you move [Spooner] there and see if you can a little spark with some speed. It doesn’t mean Beleskey won’t go back there. That’s what we have right now.”

So it’s clear Julien, and the B’s coaching staff, have simply tried to find something that will work on a consistent basis with a couple of key offensive players on Boston’s second most important forward line. The one wild card in all of this: the impending return of Frank Vatrano, who has been skating for nearly two weeks as he works toward a return from foot surgery.

Vatrano was initially penciled in as the left winger alongside Krejci to start NHL camp this fall, and the Bruins were hoping he was going to build on the eight goals he scored in Boston last season in a limited role.

Vatrano could be ready to play within the next couple of weeks, and should be back in the B’s lineup prior to the early January timetable originally offered at the time of his surgery. So perhaps the 22-year-old Vatrano can end this season-long carousel of Bruins left wingers getting paraded on and off the Krejci line, and finally give the B’s greater options at left wing. 

But the Czech playmaking center could use some stability also as he looks to find the highest level of his game in a challenging year for the Black and Gold, and do it while the Bruins find the right kind of talent to skate alongside him.