The irony is obvious. In any one of the last 15 or 20 seasons, the presence on the Blue Jays spring training roster of an additional pitcher the pedigree of J.A. Happ would have been celebrated.

The tall left-hander has been a rotation member, first with the Phillies and later with the Astros for the past four years, making 96 starts in the process.

At the dawn of the 2013 season, on a renovated Blue Jays pitching staff that expects to accomplish big things, Happ finds himself in an awkward situation. He is the sixth man in a five-man rotation and even though most every major-league team will need not just five starters, but six, seven, eight, maybe nine, before the season is done, no pitcher worth his salt wants to be in that position.

So early in camp, seven weeks before the start of the regular season, the possibilities for injury are endless, so having a sixth quality arm on hand is not just smart, it’s necessary. If one of the top five — R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson or Ricky Romero — either gets hurt or is unable to perform, then Happ is the insurance policy. If all goes well with the others, then the Jays will have to decide if Happ is better off in triple-A

Buffalo or as a member of the seven-man bullpen.

It’s a unique situation for Happ.

“It is (unique) but I’m not trying to focus too much on that,” said Happ Thursday, choosing his words carefully. “But it is kind of the reality. I just have to be positive with it for the time being.

“I am preparing as I do every off-season: To be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. My main focus is getting ready and all that stuff is out of my control. For right now I’m going to try to maintain my health and see what happens.”

It’s very likely the Jays themselves don’t know exactly how they want to handle it. The point of bolstering the rotation with high-end starters is to get six or seven innings of quality work every night. If that happens, then the bullpen is seldom going to need a long man.