Happ throwing again with back feeling better

Happ throwing again with back feeling better

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ is back on the mound after a brief absence because of a sore back.

Happ threw a side session on Tuesday afternoon and reported no ill effects the following day. It was his first time pitching since he started a game vs. the Twins on March 3.

There is no immediate timetable for Happ to get back into a spring game, but it's expected to happen in the relatively near future.

"I'm not sure yet, but it won't be long," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He was built up pretty good, he was pretty strong other than his back. I'm not sure yet, but I'm sure it will be in the next few days."

Happ started the spring with what appeared to be a guaranteed job in the starting rotation. He struggled during his first two outings, and Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos recently suggested that his starting job could be in jeopardy.

The Blue Jays technically have two spots in the rotation that are up for grabs this spring. Right-hander Drew Hutchison is the clear favorite for one of the two spots, while Happ will compete against Marcus Stroman, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond and possibly even Ricky Romero for the other spot.

Happ made 18 starts for the Blue Jays last season and posted a 4.56 ERA. He went 5-7 while striking out 77 and walking 45 during his 92 2/3 innings.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.