On Tuesday, with the Blue Jays & Rays knotted up at 1 in the 2nd inning, Tampa Bay’s Center fielder, Desmond Jennings hit a 3-1 line drive that struck Toronto’s, J.A. Happ in the side of the head before ricocheting beyond 1st base and into foul territory.
While former Blue Jays Jose Molina and Yunel Escobar rounded the bases and scored on the play, Tampa Bay’s medical staff were forced to wait for the play to end before racing towards the mound to tend to Toronto’s left handed starter.
When all was said and done, Jennings ended up with a Triple as Happ was loaded on to a stretcher and carted off to one of Tropicana Fields service tunnels before finding the strength to wave at the supportive Tampa Bay crowd prior to exiting the diamond.
With heavy hearts, the Blue Jays rallied behind their injured starter and were able to come back from a 3 Run deficit en route to defeating the Rays 6-4.
The good news? Happ was able to stay conscious throughout the duration of his medical attention both on the field and en route to the hospital, which happens to be a mere 3 blocks away from the home of the Rays.
The J.A. Happ injury is just the latest in a series of events that have plagued the Blue Jays while playing at Tropicana Field. The fact that Toronto hasn’t won a series in Tampa Bay since the Riccardi era has lead the Media and Fans a like to label the Trop a “House of Horrors” for this Blue Jays club.
In an unfortunate turn of events, Happ, who still came into the game on regular days rest, was bumped up a day in the wake of Josh Johnson’s move to the Disabled List earlier this month.
Although our thoughts are still with Happ and his family, one questions who will fill the vacancy in the starting rotation following Tuesday’s freighting 2nd inning.
A trio of Bisons could make the cut including Dave Bush (3.46 ERA/26 IP), Claudio Vargas (3.10 ERA/29 IP) & Ramon Ortiz (2.18 ERA/20.2 IP) however age and general ability at the MLB level could prove to be a focal point when the decision is made.
At the AA level there is also a trio of young arms that could see a first class ticket to the Bigs should Anthopoulos come calling. A strong start to the season from Austin Biebens-Dirx (2.68 ERA/40.1 IP), Ryan Tepera (2.78 ERA/32.1 IP) & Marcus Walden (2.97 ERA/ 33.1 IP) have helped New Hampshire achieve a 15-18 record and could provide Toronto with a serviceable starter however their overall experience could hold them back.
This season, the pipeline is loaded with talent & it’s unlikely that the Blue Jays will take the Drew Hutchison route looking to Dunedin for the answer. This, of course, leaves us with Chad Jenkins.
Jenkins, who was activated from the Disabled List on Monday, pitched 5 innings of 2 Run ball for New Hampshire in his season debut. In 2012, the then 24 Year old RHP appeared in 13 games with the Blue Jays while posting an impressive 4.50 ERA over the course of 32 MLB IP.
Jenkins could provide the Jays with the perfect mix of youth and experience as they look to fill Happ’s spot in the rotation until the return of Josh Johnson later this month.