MINNEAPOLIS - J.A. Happ returned to the Blue Jays in time for the club's three-game series against the Twins. He'll be a long reliever for the foreseeable future, something with which he's not thrilled.
"It's not necessarily what I prepared to do but if the phone rings and it's me I'm going to try and get guys out and take it from there," said Happ. "Other than that, I don't have a lot to say about the bullpen role."
Happ entered spring training with a spot in the starting rotation. He pitched his way out of it, posting a 20.57 ERA in four appearances, battling inflammation in his back through most of March.
After two poor outings, Happ was away from the club for two days, March 7-8, on what the Blue Jays termed "doctor's orders" to remain off his feet. Happ returned and was no better in final two starts. The back issues, deemed to be a non-issue after Happ's final appearance in a 22-5 loss to the Pirates on March 25, were the cause of his being placed on the disabled list the very next day.
Happ made two rehab starts, one for Single-A Dunedin, the other for Triple-A Buffalo. With the Bisons, Happ struck out six hitters in 4 2/3 innings.
The arrival of Happ, coupled with the optioning of catcher Erik Kratz to the Bisons, puts the Blue Jays back into an eight-man bullpen, three-man bench scenario.
Another pitching decision is on the horizon with the impending return of closer Casey Janssen.
Neil Wagner, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond and Happ are the four who could be realistically considered on the bubble.
Both Rogers and Redmond are out of options. On merit, Redmond's earned the right to remain with the club. Happ has an option remaining but because he has more than five years of major league service time, he has the right to refuse assignment to the minor leagues.
Rogers has given up four home runs in 8 1/3 innings of predominantly low leverage relief. However, he carries a $1.85-million ticket and is, indirectly, the asset the Blue Jays have from the John Farrell "trade" to Boston. Rogers was acquired from Cleveland for Mike Aviles, whom the Jays got from the Red Sox for Farrell, and Yan Gomes. Gomes, by the way, just signed a six-year extension with the Indians for $23-million.
Or, the Blue Jays could simply option Neil Wagner back to Triple-A Buffalo, although that would fly in the face of any claim to stick with the best 25-man active roster. Manager John Gibbons trusts Wagner in high leverage, late-game situations but when Janssen is back, right-handers Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos will fill that role.
The bullpen is, once again, a crowded place, and now includes a member who doesn't want to be there.
"I see myself as a starter," said Happ. "I don't think that's any secret. I want to be a starter in the major leagues. That's that."
RASMUS PROGNOSIS GOOD
Colby Rasmus wasn't in Tuesday's starting lineup, resting his left hamstring, which he tweaked in the fifth inning of Sunday's win in Baltimore.
"I'm hoping to be in there (Wednesday,)" said Rasmus. "Come in (Wednesday) and see how it is. Got some good treatment in today and just going to go from there."
The timing is unfortunate considering Rasmus' recent offensive production. He hit home runs in both Saturday's and Sunday's games and went 4-12 with three runs scored in the series with the Orioles.
"I definitely feel much better today," said Rasmus. "I feel good about it. I don't feel like it's something that's going to carry over. Just one day to get it right and hopefully (Wednesday) it will be good."
REYES AND JANSSEN PLAY FOR DUNEDIN
Jose Reyes and Casey Janssen made their first appearances for Single-A Dunedin on Tuesday night, the next step in their respective rehabilitation assignments.
Reyes, coming back from a strained left hamstring, went hitless in four plate appearances but drew a walk, scored a run and drove in a run.
He will play for Dunedin, again, on Wednesday and is expected to return to the Blue Jays on Friday, in time for a three-game weekend series in Cleveland.
Janssen pitched the first inning, allowing a hit and striking out one batter.
There's no timetable set for Janssen's return from an abdominal strain. He'll have at least one more appearance for Dunedin; then, maybe another. The Blue Jays are waiting to see how the injured area responds before determining how to proceed.
Minnesotans are bracing for a rain-snow mix on Wednesday, which could threaten the second game of the series.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is scheduled to pitch for the Blue Jays. The Twins are to send right-hander Mike Pelfrey to the mound.
Thursday's getaway day game is scheduled for 1:10 eastern time. This is the Jays' only scheduled visit to Minnesota this season so if Wednesday's game is postponed it stands to reason the teams would play a doubleheader on Thursday.