Jun 302010

June 30 Philadelphia Inquirer

“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.”