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Lack of command remains issue for Happ

Lack of command remains issue for Happ

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- J.A. Happ saw his control issues continue with another rough spring start against the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon.

Happ allowed three runs and needed a total of 71 pitches to get through just 2 2/3 innings. He issued four walks and allowed three hits in his third rough outing of the Grapefruit League season.

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The problem once again was an overall lack of command. Happ's tendency to get into a deep count with almost every hitter meant he wasn't able to get through the four-to-five scheduled innings.

"That wasn't great; I was all over the place, that's for sure," Happ said. "A couple of times I missed up, a couple of times I missed down. I felt like I was trying to make adjustments out there. A couple ones got away from me. It makes it a lot easier on yourself when you get ahead of the guys, but today I didn't do that as well as I would like."

That's basically how Happ's entire Spring Training has gone so far. In three official starts, he has managed to pitch just four innings while allowing nine runs on nine hits and nine walks. A high pitch count has been prohibitive in each outing, and he has yet to complete his tentatively-scheduled innings workload in any given day.

According to the Blue Jays, some of Happ's issues early in camp were because of a back injury. The good news is that appears to be a thing of the past, as Happ said Wednesday that his back was "good" and that he "felt strong out there." The problem is that time is quickly running out to solve some of his issues before the start of the regular season.

Happ is scheduled for two more outings this spring, and even though he recently received a vote of confidence from manager John Gibbons, it would still appear as though his starting job is in jeopardy. Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond also are in the mix, and before the game, pitching coach Pete Walker described Wednesday as an important start for Happ.

"I don't put too much pressure on it, I'm sure it was a big start," Happ said afterward. "But to be honest, I can't concern myself too much with the other stuff. I was happy to feel great today. I expect to feel great tomorrow and the next couple of days, get back out there and hopefully some better results for the next time."

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.

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