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No calls for Roy Halladay

No Doc on call in trade market

Roy Halladay would be the grand prize in any trade market, and certainly general managers must have been calling Toronto all season, to get their name on the callback list should the Blue Jays make the best pitcher in the American League available.

Right?

“We haven’t gotten one call,” Toronto General Manager J.P. Ricciardi said.

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The Blue Jays survived a nine-game losing streak and still hung within 2 1/2 games of first place in the AL East, through Friday. They probably can’t fall far enough and fast enough for the Jays to consider trading Halladay by the July 31 deadline, not that they want to.

“I don’t see him going anywhere,” Ricciardi said.

And not just this season. Yes, Halladay’s contract expires after next season, but here’s what all those other general managers understand: The Blue Jays might actually win with Halladay.

The Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East last year, cracking the shield of invincibility wielded by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The Blue Jays led the league in earned-run average.

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Halladay will make $15.75 million next season, but the Blue Jays have 10 other starting pitchers with major league experience, none beyond his first year of salary arbitration next year.

That should leave money for Toronto to spend on offense, and that means Halladay probably won’t be available this winter. Ricciardi said he plans to talk to Halladay about an extension in the off-season, but even without an agreement the Blue Jays probably will keep him and try to win next year too, even if that means losing him with nothing to show except draft picks.

“That’s the way we look at it,” Ricciardi said. “We’ve got a surplus of good, controllable young pitching. If we perform offensively, we could be in this thing. Without him, we know we can’t.

“We’re not going to be a playoff team without Roy Halladay.”

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Ball one, ball two ...

The Detroit Tigers might soon have to write off that $29 million contract they awarded to Dontrelle Willis, but not for lack of trying to right him.

Willis, with his big smile and bigger leg kick, led the National League with 22 victories -- and five shutouts -- for the Florida Marlins in 2005. His career has spiraled downhill since then, appearing to hit bottom when he stopped throwing strikes last year.

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The Tigers sent him to the minor leagues last year, put him on the disabled list because of an anxiety disorder this year. They brought him back in May, but his last two starts have been disastrous. If they activate Jeremy Bonderman as expected on Monday, the Tigers will have five starters in place besides Willis.

In his last inning, against the Red Sox last Thursday, he walked four batters and hit one. The Boston batters did not swing at any of Willis’ final 15 pitches.

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The Big Unit and his wonder dog

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Rex Hudler, the Angels’ broadcaster, tipped his cap to Randy Johnson as the pitcher won his 300th game last week. The two were roommates at triple-A Indianapolis in 1988.

“I would have never predicted he’d be a Hall of Famer,” Hudler said. “I thought, once he figured it out, he could make some money.

“His mental stability was like Jekyll and Hyde back then. Maybe we got along because we were both a little crazy.”

-- Bill Shaikin

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