Originally written on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 3/7/13

Roy Halladay has better control than most starting pitchers in baseball, but at least one pitch got away from him during Wednesday’s spring training game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals. Or did it? Stephen Strasburg hit Chase Utley in the calf with a pitch in the third inning. Halladay responded in the fourth by throwing behind Nationals outfielder Tyler Moore. “Yeah, that slipped,” Halladay said after the game. The right-hander then elaborated, basically admitting that he was sending a message. “We do need to protect our guys to an extent,” Halladay continued. “I’m not saying that’s what happened — it slipped — but I think that’s important. We’ve had a lot of guys hit over the years and I think as a staff we need to do a good job of protecting those guys. Spring training I don’t think you’re necessarily trying to do it, but it wouldn’t have been the worst thing had (the pitch hit Moore).” While I kind of doubt that Strasburg hit Utley on purpose, I understand the message Halladay is trying to send. The Phillies struggled through an incredibly disappointing season last year, and injuries were the main reason why. Guys like Utley and Ryan Howard need to be healthy if Philadelphia wants to get back to the playoffs. That starts with making sure pitchers don’t feel comfortable plunking them. Related posts: Chase Utley Faked Hit-by-Pitch and Scored Illegitimate Run Dennis Eckersley: The Nationals will have to pitch Stephen Strasburg in playoffs Stephen Strasburg will reportedly not pitch in the postseason

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