Squeezed out of rotation, Happ joins 'pen
MINNEAPOLIS -- J.A. Happ is back with the Blue Jays, but it's safe to say that he's less than enthused about his current role within the organization.
Toronto's left-hander was activated from the 15-day disabled list following Sunday afternoon's game against the Orioles. He's scheduled to pitch out of the bullpen and likely will become a long reliever -- at least for the immediate future.
That's not what Happ was expecting a couple of months ago, and with more 114 career starts under his belt, it's clear that he feels the starting rotation is where he belongs.
"Not great," Happ said when asked how he felt about the role. "It's not necessarily what I prepared to do but if the phone rings and it's me, I'm going to try and get guys out and take it from there. Other than that, I don't have a lot to say about the bullpen role."
Happ remained mostly guarded during his first scrum with reporters since being activated off the DL. He frequently paused and appeared to be searching for the right thing to say, but over the course of several minutes it became rather obvious that Happ is frustrated with his current situation.
The 31-year-old entered Spring Training with what he believed was a guaranteed job in the rotation. He then struggled in a pair of early spring outings and eventually developed a back injury that caused him to miss just over a week of a camp.
Happ did return in plenty of time to get ready for the start of the season, but when his struggles on the mound continued the Blue Jays decided to place him on the DL. Happ eventually made a pair of rehab starts in the Minor Leagues and has now been cleared to return.
The problem is that there is no longer a starting job waiting for him. Right-hander Dustin McGowan was named the No. 5 starter near the end of Spring Training and unless someone struggles -- or gets hurt -- within the next few weeks, Happ will remain relegated to the bullpen.
"I see myself as a starter, I don't think that's any secret," said Happ, who has a 4.25 ERA over the course of 682 2/3 career innings. "I want to be a starter in the Major Leagues. That's that."