J.A. Happ walked into his manager’s office after today's game and insisted he could pitch Saturday, despite the line drive that bruised his leg in the seventh inning.
“I’m OK,” he told Charlie Manuel.
“We’ll talk about it (Friday),” Manuel said.
Tomorrow, Manuel will finally have to name a starting pitcher for Game 3 of the National League division series, which is tied at one game apiece after Colorado defeated the Phillies 5-4 today at Citizens Bank Park. His choices are Happ, Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez, and he said he was leaning toward the latter two.
The situation was complicated even before the game, with Happ and Blanton available in the bullpen and both hoping to pitch Saturday. It grew still more muddled later, when both pitched in relief, and Happ was injured.
He was diagnosed with a bruise in his lower left leg. X-rays were negative.
“It was just one of those things where right after it happens, you don’t have strength in it,” he said. “If I had (another) four or five minutes, it would not have been an issue.”
Happ said he could pitch Saturday, as a starter or reliever. “I feel like I would he ready,” he said.
In his postgame press conference, Manuel mentioned only Blanton and Martinez as possibilities to start Game 3--but that was before the brief meeting in which Happ made his case.
“Right now, I would say it is between Blanton and Pedro,” Manuel said.
Both Martinez and Blanton said they would be ready despite the severe weather expected in Denver. Forecasts call for temperatures in the low-30s, with a 40 percent chance of snow on Saturday.
“Yes, I do expect to get the ball in Game 3 but you have to ask Charlie,” Martinez said. “It is up to him.”
Martinez acknowledged that the weather would create unfamiliar conditions. “I’ll be a rookie out there,” he said. “Even though I think I have played in 30 degree weather, it hasn’t snowed. In Boston and Cleveland and New York, it has gotten cold, so I’m looking forward to doing what I can.”
Blanton threw 19 pitches, fewer than he would in a typical side session between starts. “A few less pitches, but a little more intensity,” he said. “I don’t see it being a problem one way or another….I recover quick and I can do whatever.”
Blanton said that the cold would not bother him. “It’s going to be cold,” he said. “If you let it bother you, it will. If you don’t, it won’t.”
Manuel insisted that Blanton would be ready to start, despite the relief appearance. “I’ve been around the game 47 years. Yeah, I think he can do it, yes. Yes I do. I’ve seen guys come back and pitch three or four days in a row that were starters. How about that? Yeah, I’ve seen them do it.”