READING - Despite the results in his second rehab start, Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ insists he feels fine.
Continuing his road to recovery from a strained left forearm, Happ struggled to find his control for Double A Reading yesterday against the Richmond Flying Squirrels at FirstEnergy Stadium. In 2 1/3 innings, he allowed four runs on six hits. He fanned four and walked one. He threw 57 pitches, 36 for strikes. Reading won, 7-5.
Happ did not seem to be fazed after his day was over.
"Fine," he said of his performance. "I think it went OK. Obviously, I wasn't real sharp, especially with offspeed stuff. I definitely need to get sharper, but on a positive note I felt OK."
His lack of sharpness was evident when he allowed a two-run homer and hit a batter in the third. Both were off cutters.
Happ's current rehab assignment started Tuesday with Clearwater. He gave up two runs in three innings, no walks and two strikeouts.
"Pretty close to the same," Happ said when asked to compare the two outings. "I felt good both times."
Happ will travel to Yankee Stadium with the Phillies this week, but he said a decision has not been made on his next move. He said he is not getting caught up in his next start, let alone his return.
"That's not for me to decide," he said. "I feel OK. It's kind of up to the Phillies to tell me."
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was at the ballpark, but declined to answer questions.
Happ was put on the disabled list on April 22. He had started twice for the Phillies, going 1-0 (0.00 ERA) in 10 1/3 innings. He seems to be confident that getting back to his form from last season is part mechanics and part strength.
"Less hits, no home runs," he said jokingly about his goal. "I just need to be better with my breaking stuff. I need to get my arm speed back. It wasn't quite there today. It wasn't real sharp and it didn't have form, but I felt OK, so that's good.
"I think after being down for so long, it's going to take just a little bit to get that arm speed back where I feel like I'm feeling crisp and hopefully popping some balls a little bit better. My arm speed wasn't very good today, but, physically, I felt fine."
Last season Happ finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year race. He went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA. He also led all first-year NL pitchers in innings pitched (166), strikeouts (119), complete games (three), shutouts (two) and winning percentage (.750).
Happ is trying to remain positive and focused on the mission at hand. He said that his rehabbing is no different than spring training. That mind-set should serve him well.