ALLENTOWN - If the Phillies were hoping for a performance that definitively told them lefthander J.A. Happ is ready to return to their starting rotation, they had to be sorely disappointed.
Instead, assistant general manager Benny Looper witnessed Happ throw 100 pitches and allow two runs on six hits and four walks in four-plus innings during triple-A Lehigh Valley's 5-4 win over Rochester on Tuesday at Coca-Cola Park.
Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA and finished second in the National League rookie of the year voting last season.
He has not been impressive during his five rehab starts at three minor-league levels, but he believes he's ready to pitch for the Phillies again.
"I felt normal out there health-wise," he said. "I didn't get ahead in the count and I threw a lot of pitches, but I felt real good."
It remains to be seen if the way Happ feels is enough to persuade the Phillies to activate him from the disabled list.
His 30-day rehab assignment started June 8, so there's enough time for him to make another minor-league start if that's the path the Phillies choose.
Happ is hoping that's not the case.
"I'm ready, man," Happ said.
"You have no idea. I don't have the words to explain how frustrating this whole thing has been. From initially thinking it was going to be 10 to 15 days to however many weeks later. I'm just a little disappointed I wasn't able to go more innings."
Happ made just two big-league starts this season before being placed on the disabled list April 16 with a strained left forearm.
His rehab outing Tuesday was officially a relief appearance because it was a continuation of a Lehigh Valley game against Rochester that was stopped after two innings the same day Happ was placed on the disabled list. That game was started by Phillies reliever J.C. Romero, who was on the disabled list at the time.
Happ, who had four strikeouts, allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in four innings and surrendered a solo home run to Trevor Plouffe in the fifth.
"I've had enough outings where I feel like I should be knocking some of the rust off, but today I was anxious to throw strike one and I never really did it," Happ said. "I threw one of my best bullpen [sessions] that I have in the last couple years. Believe it or not, sometimes it's a bad sign. I went out there and I wasn't as sharp as I like.
"I feel like I can correct it. I felt like my arm speed was better and I felt like the ball was coming out better. I was rushing myself a little and probably a little overanxious."
Happ admittedly is eager to get back to the big leagues. We'll know soon if the Phillies are convinced that is where he belongs.