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Happ trying to come to grips with new role

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- J.A. Happ appears headed for a spring of uncertainty after the Blue Jays' busy offseason put his role with the club into question.

Happ has been a regular starter in the big leagues since 2009, but following the acquisitions of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, there simply isn't any room for him in the Blue Jays' rotation.

That will result in Happ either being relegated to the bullpen or -- perhaps even worse -- a trip to Triple-A Buffalo. It's a relatively scary thought for the veteran left-hander, and one he might not have completely come to grips with yet.

"I prepared like I do every offseason, and that's to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues," Happ said Thursday afternoon. "My main focus was getting ready. Obviously that type of stuff is out of my control. We'll see what ends up happening, but for right now, I'm just going to try to maintain my health."

Happ joined the Blue Jays last July in a multiplayer deal with the Astros. Happ was the centerpiece of the trade, and while he initially pitched out of the bullpen, a future spot in the rotation seemed all but guaranteed.

The Illinois native did eventually receive a promotion and performed relatively well with the Blue Jays while posting a 4.69 ERA in 10 games. Happ's biggest highlight came with a 7 1/3-inning performance against Detroit on Aug. 23, when he allowed just one run on four hits while striking out seven.

Happ would have a guaranteed job in just about any rotation outside of Toronto. Injuries likely will give him a shot to crack the staff at some point this season, but just when that will occur is anybody's guess. In the meantime, there isn't anything else he can do but wait.

"I'm trying not to focus too much on that, but that is kind of the reality," Happ said in reference to not having a guaranteed job. "So it is kind of an interesting thing. I guess I'm being positive with it for the time being."

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