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Happ stretches out in return to Grapefruit action

March 13, 2017

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- J.A. Happ felt good about his shot of redemption. Happ's last start came in an exhibition against Team Canada last week in which the left-hander threw 44 pitches and allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings.It was a different story on Monday vs. the Red Sox, as

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- J.A. Happ felt good about his shot of redemption. Happ's last start came in an exhibition against Team Canada last week in which the left-hander threw 44 pitches and allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings.
It was a different story on Monday vs. the Red Sox, as Happ was perfect through three frames en route to four innings of one-run ball in Toronto's 4-3 win. What a difference a week makes.
"It's nice to kind of flush that one and have some success and get up and down and get through a lineup," Happ said "So for sure, something definitely positive to build off of."
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"I thought he was really good," said manager John Gibbons. "His last outing he was a little bit off. I thought he was much, much better."
Happ was able to use all of his pitches and get ahead in the count. Spring Training is all about making early adjustments, and Happ felt more comfortable in terms of his release point.
"Just feeling the ball come off of my fingertips instead of kind of yanking the ball, it felt more consistent coming off of my fingers."
Happ's best start of the spring saw better extension on his pitches and much improved timing on the mound.
"Tempo was big. When you're kind of searching a little bit, you tend to take a little more time out there," he said. "I wanted to get the ball and throw today, see the sign, feel it and keep a consistent tempo. I'm better when I'm working a little quicker like that."
So after taking a step back in his second start and then a step forward vs. the Red Sox, is Happ where he wants to be at this point?
"After today, I would say so, yeah. I mean, I got up to 60 [pitches] exactly through four, it's really about the up and downs, after not really getting up and down in my last outing. So I'll see how my recovery goes, and it will be good to keep building from here."
For Happ, the preparation is all about his pitch count, a count that differs from last spring.
"As long as I can get up to 75 or 80 pitches, that's what I'm planning to do," said Happ. "Normally I go a little higher and then taper down and then jump back up for the start of the season. This time, I'm trying to do a slower build -- where I'll probably end about 75 or 80 [pitches] rather than getting up to that 95. And then once we start the season, I'll be ready to go."

Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com.