The first note of frustration and disappointment at this most optimistic Blue Jays spring camp naturally came from J.A. Happ, the odd man out of the club’s off-season bonanza.
The towering left-hander, who has spent the bulk of his six major-league seasons as a starting pitcher, was pushed out of the Jays’ rotation by the acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.
He has been designated the club’s sixth starter, the first injury fill-in, and pegged for either Triple-A Buffalo’s rotation or the Jays’ bullpen as a long reliever.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Happ, after he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings against the visiting New York Yankees on Sunday. “I told myself a couple things before I came into camp — that I would try to stay as positive as I could and let things play out. So I’m trying to do that.”
But Happ is obviously unhappy with his current lot and although he didn’t say it explicitly, he suggested he is looking for an opportunity to start elsewhere.
“I know there’s other people in the stands as well, so I’m just trying to just keep my routine and we’ll see what happens.”
When asked directly whether he would prefer to be in the Jays’ bullpen or Buffalo’s rotation, Happ said: “I’m a major-league starting pitcher. I guess I’ll leave it at that for right now.”
Happ, 30, was acquired midway through last season from the Houston Astros to help bolster the Jays’ injury-riddled rotation. He has performed much better as a starter than as a reliever in his career and is due to become a free agent in 2015.