Trevor May was a high school pitcher in Kelso, Wash., and was selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. That was a season that the Phillies won the second World Series in their history.
May signed that summer, headed off to Clearwater, Fla., and pitched in five games in the Gulf Coast League. He was back there for minor league camp in 2009.
The Phillies have the same setup in Clearwater as do the Twins in Fort Myers: The major leaguers are housed in a clubhouse a small distance from the minor leaguers.
“The Phillies would have Cole Hamels and other veteran pitchers come over and meet with us on one of the back fields,’’ May said. “They would talk about preparation more than pitching.’’
The Phillies acquired Cliff Lee in the middle of the 2009 season, in an effort to repeat as World Series champions. They did get back to the Series before losing to the Yankees.
Philadelphia was not successful in an attempt to sign Lee to a long-term contract. So, Dec. 16, 2009, the Phillies traded Lee to Seattle, and acquired Roy Halladay from Toronto in exchange for three players.
The standout pitchers visiting the minor leagues the following spring in Clearwater were Halladay and Hamels. Halladay, then 32, had won the Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2003, and had led the American League in innings pitched three times.
The young pitchers were going to take notice when “Doc’’ Halladay came over for a session, and he brought more with him than a reputation for greatness.
“He had this huge binder with him,’’ May said. “He had sheets of paper from an entire year — what he did in his workout, how many pitches he threw in a bullpen session, what pitches he threw.
“He eventually joined the iPad generation, but one thing I’ll always remember about him is that binder.’’
Halladay retired after the 2013 season at age 36 and settled in with his family in the Tampa Bay area. He had gained a passion for flying from his father, and once done with baseball, he set out to get a pilot’s license.
On Tuesday, he was alone in his small two-seat plane, it crashed and Halladay died in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I was shocked when Jose Fernandez died in the boat accident,’’ May said. “This one really hits close to home, because Roy Halladay was a huge role model on how I’ve tried to prepare to pitch.
“With him, it started in spring training. First guy in, last to leave. Some of the minor leaguers turned it into a game, trying to have their cars in the parking lot before him.’’
Halladay’s response was to get up a half-hour earlier — 4:30 instead of 5 in the morning — to keep beating the whippersnappers to the yard.
May was traded to the Twins along with pitcher Vance Worley for outfielder Ben Revere at the 2012 winter meetings. He was never an invitee to Phillies spring training, but he would try to get on the bus for certain games.
“When Roy was throwing … I wanted to watch him work,’’ May said. “Roy was throwing all the time, 60-, 70-pitch bullpen sessions. He would throw until he was getting every pitch where he wanted it.’’
May said his attempts to emulate the Halladay approach — the workouts, the bullpen sessions that demanded command of every pitch — actually didn’t kick in until he was with the Twins.
And the command part didn’t come easily. He was 25 when he debuted with the Twins in August 2014. May had nine starts that year, 16 more in 2015 and then made 76 relief appearances through 2016.
Manager Paul Molitor liked him in the bullpen. You have to think that he would have been back in the rotation eventually in 2017, with all the failed starters that were given a shot.
Except, on March 12, May tore a ligament in his right elbow, and eight days later, he underwent Tommy John surgery.
May was in Fort Myers on Wednesday, continuing his rehab. “I’m throwing from 105 feet,’’ he said. “My plan is to be on the mound when big-league workouts start in February. I know that everyone says patience, but as I see it, I’m going to miss one full year and no more.
“One year. That’s a nice round number. I’m going to be ready to pitch in spring training.’’
Sounds as if May is trying to draw on his inner-Roy to fulfill that goal?
“Always,’’ May said. “The way Doc worked is unforgettable.’’