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07/29/08 8:18 PM ET
Phillies recall lefty Happ from Triple-A
Young hurler expected to be used primarily out of bullpen
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Not knowing the exact reason for being pulled early on Sunday, J.A. Happ decided to forget about it. He went to see "Step Brothers." "I went to a movie to try to get my mind off of it," Happ said. "It was fantastic." So was the news he received later, when Happ was told he was returning to the Major Leagues as a member of the Phillies' pitching staff. He replaced Adam Eaton, who accepted a Minor League assignment on Monday and will start on Thursday for Class A Lakewood. "I'm just looking to stay in the big leagues," Happ said. "I'll do whatever." For the short term, that means serving as the second left-hander in the bullpen -- a need the team has long been trying to fill, although pitching coach Rich Dubee and manager Charlie Manuel acknowledged there will be a learning curve. Happ made three relief appearances while in the Minors and had 19 relief outings as a 19-year-old at Northwestern University. Dubee said Happ will be used "in the middle of a game" and be eased into situations when he might have to retire a tough lefty at a key point. "I don't think he's ready to handle that yet, but maybe further down the road, he can come in and get that one lefty out," Dubee said. Manuel added: "If you give him a defined role in the bullpen, it will take him a while to get used to it. I think he can do it, but it will take him a while to get used to the technique of [warming] up, things like that." Happ is back because the club needed a pitcher to replace Eaton and was pleased with what the southpaw showed. He compiled a 3.27 ERA in two starts for the Phillies without recording a decision, then allowed six hits and three walks in 15 2/3 innings in three outings after being optioned back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, striking out 23. The Phillies still envision Happ as a starter, and he could be a few Brett Myers struggles away from returning to the rotation. "Without a doubt, there's a chance," Manuel said. "We like what Happ shows. We got to give Brett a few more starts, see where he's at. We have to wait and see." Happ doesn't care for the specifics of his role, as long as he has one. "I imagine I'll get some opportunities," Happ said. "Hopefully, I can take advantage. I hope [my stay in the big leagues] is permanent. I'm going to do whatever they want. "If [relieving] is my role, I'll talk to our relievers about it. It's getting used to the up-and-down, how to warm up. ... Other than that, it should be all right."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.