Multiple times, J.A Happ categorized his latest rehab appearance with Triple-A Lehigh Valley as “anxious”.
In context, I’m not sure if that is grammatically the right type of adjective, but with 100 pitches in 4+ innings, giving up 2 runs, 6 hits, against the Rochester Red Wings, it safe to say he was a bit baffled on all fronts on Tuesday night.
From the first batter, Happ looked a bit lost. Even though his velocity (87-90 mph) was the best it has been since the start of his rehab, he fell behind eight of his first ten hitters, something that has to be concerning for pitcher that prides himself in his control. In addition to basic control issues, it appears that he doesn’t quite have the “out” pitch yet that most big league pitchers need to be successful. Especially for a player with average big-league stuff at best, this needs to change before Happ makes his jump back to the bigs.
When he is ready, of course.
All in all, as you can tell by the mood of this post, Happ’s outing showed minimal evidence that he should be back in a Phillies uniform, but could have certainly been worse. Happ gave up three extra base hits (including one HR), walked as many batters as he struck out (4), and if not for Domonic Brown stealing the show (outfield assist ended an inning that had 2 runners on base, both inherited by Happ), would have had a final pitching line that could be considered sub-par by most rehab start standards.
All in all, Happ’s four innings at Coca-Cola park Tuesday night most likely bought him one more rehab appearance at either Reading or Lehigh Valley before his DL stint is set to be finished next week.
According to his post-game press conference though, that may not be what J.A Happ is imagining.
HAPP PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT (Partial because there were plenty of repetitive questions)
How did the forearm feel out there?
Happ: “Today was the best I felt. I actually felt normal today healthwise. I got ahead in the counts, and threw a lot of pitches, but besides that I felt real good.”
As you take us through the outing, do you think you showed any signs of rust?
Happ: “I guess. I’ve had enough outings where the rust should be off, but tonight I think it was more of me being anxious. Trying to throw strike one and not being able to do it, it’s a strange feeling. I felt good out there, but I just threw too many pitches and they (Rochester) did a good job of battling and fighting pitches off.”
Do you think some of that is just trying too hard to make it back to the big leagues?
Happ: ” Could be something like that. It is what it is. Hopefully this is my last one, and that’s the way I viewed it. I threw one of my best bullpen sessions in the last couple years here, and believe it or not, sometimes that is a bad sign when you throw a good bullpen like that. I mean, I just went out there, and wasn’t as sharp as I’d like, but I feel like I can correct it because I finally feel good again. Physically, right now, I feel ready.”
Do you have any indication on what your role is going to be when you get back with Philadelphia?
Happ: “We never talked about anything besides coming back as a starter. I feel like that’s why they brought me back, but in the end it’s going to be their decision.”
How sick are you of this rehab?
Happ: “I’m ready man. I’m ready, you guys have no idea. There are not words to explain how frustrating this whole thing has been. From initially thinking it was going to be 10-15 days to here we are however many weeks later and I’m here. So, I’m just really anxious and obviously disappointed I couldn’t go a couple more (innings), but overall I’m happy with the way I feel. I feel real good.”
With your pitch count around 100, the most you have thrown during your rehab, are there any ill-effects or extra soreness from that?
Happ: ” No. I had an extra day because of their (Iron Pigs) road trip, so I feel good. I actually tried to convince Rod (Nichols) to let me in a face a couple more hitters just to try to get my pitch count up there like it would be normally. Hopefully I rebound good, I don’t see why I wouldn’t.”
If they give you one more start here (Lehigh Valley), would you take that is a negative?
Happ: “It’s not up to me. But, with what we just talked about, I’m anxious to get back. It’s not really going to be my choice though.”
With the year you had last year, and now spending all this time rehabbing, do you feel that you are back at “square one” in this whole process of proving yourself again a big league pitcher?
Happ: ” The way it kind of worked out is that this is sort of Spring Training for me. I only had a couple outing before this happened, and I’ve been trying to get back. It’s been a grind, but I feel like I am on the verge. Any day now, it’ll be there.”