Happ strong again as Blue Jays down Red Sox

March 22, 2013, 5:19 PM

DUNEDIN — J.A. Happ emerged out of the weight room at the Blue Jays spring training complex wearing a team-issued red t-shirt that read “Nothing is given. Everything is earned.”

About an hour after he threw six innings of shutout baseball, giving up only two hits against the Red Sox, it became clear that Happ feels he has absolutely earned a spot in the Blue Jays rotation.

“I definitely feel good about the way it’s gone,” said Happ, of his 2013 spring training. “I established that I can come in and throw strikes, using everything. If they wanted to see something, my guess is that may be it. And that’s about it.”

The fifth starter job has been the topic du jour, every day, here in Dunedin. Friday, Happ admitted that this entire thing “has been weighing on me.”

“I don’t know if you want to call it a chip on your shoulder, or whatever, but I certainly have motivation to go out there,” said Happ. “You never really lack that, but a little bit more, I suppose, never hurts.”

Happ pitched well Friday. Some of his best work all spring. He did walk a pair, plunked Lyle Overbay and struck out three. He threw 85 pitches, 51 for strikes. And John Gibbons was quite succinct about what stood out from the performance.

“His command,” said the manager.

The very thing management is concerned with what ill’s Ricky Romero.

“He had everything working, moving the ball in and out good,” said Gibbons. “I thought he was much better today than the last time out.”

Thursday was the first time Alex Anthopoulos hinted Romero’s status as fifth starter wasn’t secure.

Friday, this from Gibbons: “He’s pitched real good, and Ricky’s struggled. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

When pressed on it, Gibbons grinned, and, tongue firmly in cheek, said “We haven’t discussed any of that.”

Stay tuned on the topic du jour.

***

Casey Janssen pitched in his first Major League spring training game Friday. Four months after surgery, he was efficient in an 11-pitch seventh inning that went strikeout looking, strikeout swinging and groundout.

“The game mound, the adrenaline really kicked in,” said Janssen. “I guess it couldn’t have gone any better.”

Janssen had a longer warm-up, working on some extra pitches in the bullpen, which he said helped.

The next step remains unknown.

“I have no idea. I’m sure it’s a game somewhere, sometime, I don’t know,” he said.

Janssen said it’s not necessarily a need for him to throw in consecutive days to be ready for the season.

“I’ve had spring trainings when I have (gone back-to-back) and I haven’t. When the lights turn on, the soreness goes away, and you grind through it,” said Janssen.

***

R.A Dickey said he threw eight innings (102 pitches) in a minor league game today at the team’s Mattick Complex.

“It was a great day for me on a lot of different accounts. I was pleased with it,” he said.

Henry Blanco caught him and Dickey said “he didn’t miss one” of his pitches. Barring unforeseen circumstances, he’ll be the second catcher.

Dickey said he may taper off for his next start after going eight today. On a scale of one to ten, he says his knuckleball is a seven (with ten being the best).

“And I can win with a seven. So we’ll see how it goes,” Dickey said.

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