J.A. Happ had to leave an exhibition start last night against AAA Oklahoma City with a strained oblique after three innings. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that Happ is taking a wait and see approach with the injury for now:
“I’m taking an optimistic approach and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Happ said. “Hopefully, I got out before anything too serious [happened]. But it tightened up pretty good. I hope I caught it before it gets too serious.”
Strained obliques are not simple injuries for pitchers. Happ could miss his Sunday assignment in Philadelphia, and could even wind up on the DL. For reference, the Dodgers’ Jon Garland will miss the first four-to-six weeks with a similar injury.
If the Astros were forced to turn to a replacement starter, it’s hard to say who they would go with first. Rule Five pick Aneury Rodriguez was going to be the long man, and he could get the first crack at it. Ryan Rowland-Smith, who was picked up from the Mariners in the offseason, could also have a shot at the spot.
With long-term injuries to Clint Barmes and Jason Castro as well, spring training has been brutal for the Astros. They’re ready for the season to start.