Friday, February 12, 2016

Happ progressing slowly

When J.A. Happ landed on the disabled list because of a forearm injury nine days ago in Atlanta, the Phillies' hope was the lefthander would make a relatively quick return.

Happ progressing slowly


When J.A. Happ landed on the disabled list because of a forearm injury nine days ago in Atlanta, the Phillies' hope was the lefthander would make a relatively quick return.

"I would say it would be closer to weeks than months," general manager Ruben Amaro said at the time.

Now, it seems likely that Happ will miss at least a month after a discouraging 20-pitch bullpen session Friday at Citizens Bank Park.

"It  didn't go as well as we expected," pitching coach Rich Dubee said before Saturday's game against the New York Mets. "I don't know if it was because he pushed it pretty good the day before when he long tossed, but we'll find out. We'll see."

Happ has not pitched since an April 15 game against the Washington Nationals when he walked six batters and complained of forearm soreness afterward. The Phillies initially pushed back his next start, then placed him on the disabled list after a 20-pitch bullpen session in Atlanta did not yield positive results.

Now, Dubee doesn't know when Happ will try to throw again.

"We'll let it calm down for a couple days and adjust from there," Dubee said.

Dubee said he's still not overly concerned.

"Our doctors' reports are that everything is stable in there and now it's just a matter of getting this thing to calm down," the pitching coach said. "It hasn't calmed down enough yet, especially when he got on the (pitcher's mound). His long toss has improved greatly."

Dubee didn't rule out that Happ will need some rehab starts before returning to the rotation.

Happ's slow recovery presents a problem for a Phillies starting rotation already having problems with injuries and ineffectiveness.

With righthander Joe Blanton expected to come off the disabled list and make his first start of the season Monday against St. Louis, the team must decide whether to keep Kyle Kendrick in the rotation or replace him with Nelson Figueroa, who made a spot start in place of Happ a week ago in Arizona.

The Phillies seem to be leaning toward keeping Kendrick in the rotation, but Dubee made it clear he wasn't pleased with the righthander's work so far this season, particularly Friday night when he allowed four runs and two home runs against the Mets.

"I don't know if we have too many other options," Dubee said when asked if Kendrick would make his next start. "He's got to pick it up, though."

Dubee said he likes what Figueroa has provided for the Phillies, but added "I don't know if I like him as a rotation guy."

"He definitely is a piece," Dubee said. "He can do a lot of things for you. He got his first save (Wednesday in San Francisco), he can go long for you and he can pitch a couple innings. Those are all good things to have."


Inquirer Columnist
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