SEATTLE (AP) — The self-imposed deadline the Toronto Blue Jays set for any deal involving ace Roy Halladay
arrived on Tuesday, with the familiar No. 32 still in the Blue Jays
clubhouse preparing for his next start on Wednesday against the Seattle
Mariners.

“You can believe he’s here,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said.

With rumors of deals spreading from coast to coast involving Halladay,
the top pitcher known to be available as Friday’s non-waiver trade
deadline approaches continued with business as usual on Tuesday. He
didn’t speak to the media as part of his day-before-game ritual and
decided last weekend back in Toronto that he was done talking about
that trade.

Still, his status remains the most popular question in the Blue Jays clubhouse.

“Nobody
wants him to go. Everybody knows we have a better opportunity to win
with him on this team and next year it’ll be the same thing,” catcher
Rod Barajas said. “You never want to lose the most dominating pitcher
in the league and I strongly feel he’s the best pitcher in this league.
To take him off our team would be a big loss.”

The Halladay
whirlwind began on July 6 when general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he
would field offers for the 2003 AL Cy Young winner, who has a full
no-trade clause. The Blue Jays set a loose deadline of Tuesday for
making a deal but Ricciardi has said there is room to maneuver.

Nearly every contender has been linked with trying to acquire the big right-hander.

“If
there was an urgency to be somewhere else and an urgency from the team
to have me somewhere else, I think it would be different,” Halladay
said after his start last Friday in Toronto, before going silent on the
situation. “I just don’t get that feeling. At this point I feel like
I’m going to be here.”

Ricciardi said last week that Halladay’s
desire to test the free agent market in 2010 is the primary reason the
team is willing to move its star. Additionally, Rogers Communications,
the company that owns the Blue Jays, said Tuesday it needs to control
costs. Halladay signed contract extensions
with Toronto before the 2004 and 2006 seasons, and is scheduled to make
$15.75 million next season in the final year of his deal with the Blue
Jays.

Halladay, who is 11-3 with a 2.62
ERA, is expected to talk about the trade situation after his start on
Wednesday. When asked with all that has gone on if he was surprised to
still see Halladay in the clubhouse, Gaston smiled and said “No.”

Gaston also spoke optimistically about the Blue Jays going forward in 2010, but only if Halladay isn’t dealt before Friday.

“If you lose somebody like (Halladay) it’s going to take time to regroup. For me he’s the best pitcher in baseball,” Gaston said.


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