Arm injury sends Happ to disabled list

Posted: April 23, 2010

ATLANTA - J.A. Happ's attempt to erase 2007 from his memory has failed.

Now, the Phillies lefthander is hoping he's in the midst of making sure that bit of his personal history doesn't repeat itself.

After acknowledging that the pain in his strained left forearm is similar to what he experienced in 2007, Happ confessed that he unwisely tried to pitch through the pain that year at triple-A Ottawa.

"I can't remember exactly [what it felt like], and I've also tried to block that entire year out of my memory," Happ said. "This has brought that back, which I don't like."

Happ landed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday after throwing a bullpen session at Turner Field that was stopped after 20 pitches by pitching coach Rich Dubee.

"I'm a miserable person when I'm on the DL," Happ said. "I'm going to try to be a little bit better about that, but to not be a part of it and not being able to compete . . . it's frustrating, for sure."

Happ's DL designation was backdated to April 16, the day after he revealed the pain in his forearm following a six-walk outing against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies filled Happ's roster spot by activating lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero, who completed a rehab assignment after undergoing elbow surgery in the off-season.

Righthander Nelson Figueroa will take Happ's turn in the starting rotation, beginning Saturday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. General manager Ruben Amaro admitted it was a concern that Figueroa had not pitched extended innings since spring training, when he was with the New York Mets, but the Phillies felt he was the best option.

"He's had experience doing it," Amaro said. "He has been a spot starter from time to time, and he has pitched well for us so far."

The Phillies believe Happ won't be on the disabled list much beyond May 1, the date he is eligible to return.

"I would say it would be closer to weeks than months," Amaro said. "It could be just a week or a week-and-a-half. He's already started on his rehab. It's not like he's starting the rehab from scratch."

Although he was not satisfied with what he saw during Happ's brief bullpen session Thursday, Dubee agreed that the lefthander could make a quick return.

"We think we caught it at a good time," Dubee said. "I feel very positive it won't be a tremendously extended period of time.

However, the same injury presented problems for Happ in 2007. The lefthander said he tried to pitch through the pain most of the season, and the results were not good. He finished the year 4-6 with a 5.02 ERA in 24 starts at Ottawa; he did not reveal the pain to team officials until after the season.

The Phillies responded by canceling his planned trip to the Arizona Fall League.

"It was a situation in '07 where I was younger and I felt like I was on the verge and I just didn't want to miss an opportunity," Happ said. "I didn't know my body as well, and I tried to get through it and thought I could do it. I was a little more stubborn, and I didn't have the perspective that hopefully I have now."

The Phillies are making sure that he has a better perspective by keeping him from going to the mound.

"I think they're being smart about it, and I agree with them," Happ said. "It has progressed some, and we hope it continues to do that. We're not going to shut it down completely. I'm still going to toss and stuff and try to keep the arm moving. Hopefully I'll be able to get on the mound again soon."


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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