ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – J.A. Happ threw a light side session in the bullpen Wednesday as he continues to try and work his way back from a back problem, but how he fits into the Toronto Blue Jays puzzle once he returns is far from certain.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos, pressed on what happens to the left-hander once he’s ready for activation from the disabled list, said there is no guarantee he’ll return to the rotation, “the same way there’s no guarantee with every single starter over time, things can happen, performances, things like that.”
“We’ll deal with all of that,” he added. “Hopefully we have five starters that are rolling and they’re winning all of their games and we have too many starters. That would be a great problem to have, I would sign up for that right now. But, you deal with those things as they come.”
Happ’s first day of eligibility to come off the DL is April 14, but he must throw in games first. Pitching coach Pete Walker oversaw his session and liked what he saw.
“He’s feeling much better, definitely feeling good, played catch (Tuesday), threw a light side today and really feels no ill-effects from the issues with the back right now and he’ll progress accordingly,” he said. “We’ll discuss now what the next step is, if it’s to get him in a game, when that will be, and progress him from there.”
One possibility if everyone is healthy and pitching well in the rotation may be putting Happ in the bullpen, though Anthopoulos stressed that’s not a role they view him in.
“We expect him to be a starter for us, that goes without saying,” he said. “When he’s healthy he’s a really good starter.”
NO SHORTSTOP SEARCH: The Blue Jays aren’t looking for some help at shortstop during Jose Reyes’ absence, according to Alex Anthopoulos.
“We expect Jose to be back somewhat soon,” he said. “We don’t expect it to be that long of a stint.”
Q+A: Here are some other highlights of Alex Anthopoulos’s session with media:
On the Blue Jays carrying three catchers: “It’s fair to say, ideally, we wouldn’t carry three. It’s really game to game right now. We’ve had dialogue, still talk about the scenarios and obviously with Reyes going down, we’ve had dialogue but when some of these guys start coming back from the DL whether it’s Janssen, Happ, Reyes, knock on wood, none of these guys are expected to be long, so we’ll have some moves to make and there will be changes. For the time being, we’ll go that way but that obviously can change. If we need a reliever, if we need an eighth reliever, which obviously we hope that we don’t, but if we go 18 innings, or a starter gets knocked out in the first, you could see a move there. It all depends, it’s really all day to day.”
On Josh Thole’s offence: “If we’re evaluating him now on the current year, I don’t know that there will be enough games to even really say we can evaluate him offensively. How many games is he going to get playing time, we have four off-days in April, he might only be playing once every five days with the off-days depending on how Gibby decides to set it up. It’s just too early to tell.”
LIND VS LEFTIES: For the second time in three games, manager John Gibbons sat slugger Adam Lind against a left-handed starter Wednesday.
Gibbons said he’ll continue to do that “against certain guys. And we wanted to get (Moises) Sierra in there. There will be some lefties along the way that he’ll get a shot at.”
LIFE WITHOUT JANSSEN: While the Blue Jays certainly have depth in their bullpen even with closer Casey Janssen’s absence, manager John Gibbons has still had to adjust.
“In (Tuesday) night’s game, I looked at it differently from a year ago, because you could match up better, you could go one or two guys, you could role someone else in there,” he said. “With that one less guy, it’s a little different that early in the game, in the sixth inning you still have your go-to guys, you can’t really use them for one or two hitters. They’ve got to pitch to more guys.”