Aug 252010

Former Phillies LHP J.A. Happ

August 24 Philadelphia Inquirer

“The day J.A. Happ was traded, he tried to pack as much as he could. But he had a flight the next morning to Houston, where he would pitch that night. So he left behind three big boxes of stuff in his Center City apartment.

When the Astros arrived in Philadelphia and checked into their hotel Monday, Happ realized he was two blocks away from his place.

“I can see it from our hotel,” Happ said. “It’s super weird.”

Happ will have a chance this week to ship the boxes to Houston, his new residence. He’ll also face his former Phillies teammates Wednesday when he starts against Roy Halladay.

“It’ll be strange,” Happ said.

Happ is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in five starts with Houston. He was the centerpiece of the package the Phillies sent to the Astros in exchange for Roy Oswalt.

When Happ was traded July 29, he was emotional about leaving the only organization he had ever known. On Monday, he took a taxi to Citizens Bank Park. As he was walking into the players’ entrance, he saw good friend Kyle Kendrick.

“I said hi to him then walked right past the door that I’ve been going in for 21/2 years now,” Happ said. “It is what it is.”

Happ surveyed his surroundings in the visitors’ clubhouse – the first time he had ever been in that part of the ballpark – and smiled. He’s at peace with being traded. In Houston, his rotation spot is secure, albeit with less attention given the Astros are long out of contention.

“I don’t mind the pressure from the fans and the standings,” Happ, 27, said. “I enjoyed that. The only pressure I don’t enjoy is the feeling of job security. But that’s normal. That’s part of baseball. It’s a little different here. They brought me in here because they want me to pitch, and hopefully, they’ll give me the opportunity. It’s on me to pitch well enough to deserve it.”

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that will benefit Happ.

“He’s going to be able to pitch regularly in that rotation, and from a development standpoint, he’ll get every chance in the world to be a top-notch pitcher,” Manuel said. “That’s good.””

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