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Happ sees pitch count rise early vs. patient Canada

MLB.com

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ threw 44 pitches in his start against Team Canada on Tuesday at Florida Exchange Stadium. That was about what he expected. He just didn't anticipate that he'd throw them all in 1 1/3 innings.

"I got the pitches in, but not the distance," Happ said after giving up three runs, two earned, in Canada's 7-1 win.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ threw 44 pitches in his start against Team Canada on Tuesday at Florida Exchange Stadium. That was about what he expected. He just didn't anticipate that he'd throw them all in 1 1/3 innings.

"I got the pitches in, but not the distance," Happ said after giving up three runs, two earned, in Canada's 7-1 win.

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Happ won 20 games for Toronto last year, so he's certainly not panicking.

"My fastball command was not great," he said. "I wouldn't be real happy if I was going into the season tomorrow, feeling the way I felt out there.

"But that's why we go through these steps. I look forward to tinkering a little bit and keep trying to get to the point where I'm a little closer. In Spring Training you're going to have ups and downs and some weird things happen. I'm not overly concerned."

Manager John Gibbons noted that, at 34, Happ doesn't throw quite as hard as he used to. That makes command more important.

"That's going to get better as he goes along," Gibbons said. "He's a different kind of pitcher now than he used to be. He used to be a power guy. Now he's not that anymore. He still has that in there when he needs it, but he's really turned into a pitcher."

The fact that Happ was so successful last season allows the Blue Jays to relax, even if he struggles a little early.

"But if you can do it once, you can do it again," Gibbons said. "I know he believes that. It wasn't just like he was a guy who went out there and got a lot of runs. He pitched very, very well."

Happ walked two batters in the first after Dalton Pompey led off the inning by reaching on an error. The lefty speculated that Team Canada, who has had only one workout and will play just two exhibitions before opening the World Baseball Classic against the Dominican Republic on Thursday in Miami, might have been extra patient at the plate.

"I thought I was making some pitches," he said. "It looked like they came in wanting to see some pitches. And I certainly showed them a lot. It seemed like they were going to be pretty patient for the most part, trying to see that live pitching to be prepared."

Video: CAN@TOR: Malo reaches on infield single to first

Happ also didn't help himself in the second when Jonathan Malo hit a grounder to first base and reached when the pitcher didn't cover the bag.

"I think I didn't recognize how softly it was hit," Happ said. "I kind of came off with my momentum toward third a little more than I normally do and a little more than I should, and I got caught in between. That can't happen. I've got to be over there."

Worth noting
Gibbons still expects third baseman Josh Donaldson (strained calf) to be ready by Opening Day, but he isn't so sure about second baseman Devon Travis (knee).

"I don't know when he's going to be back and ready to go," the manager said. "It's one of those things. If it costs him a couple weeks or whatever it might be at the beginning of the regular season, so be it. As long as we get him back and he can get [most of] a full year in. To be honest with you, I expected him to be a little further along than he is. But don't read anything into that. We're just going to be cautious."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

Toronto Blue Jays, J.A. Happ