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Getting to Know New York Yankees Lefty Pitcher J.A. Happ

Getting to Know…

NEW YORK YANKEES LEFTY PITCHER

by Ari Hirsch

During this past offseason the New York Yankees acquired lefty pitcher, J.A. Happ for two years at $34 million, with a $17 million option for the 2021 season. Happ was outstanding for the Yanks last summer after they acquired him prior to the July 31st trade deadline, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA. Last season he set a career high in strikeouts with 193 and he did so mostly by pounding the upper part of the strike zone with fastballs.

Name: James Anthony Happ

Born: October 19, 1982 (age 36) in Peru, Illinois

MLB debut: June 30, 2007, for the Philadelphia Phillies

Teams Played for:

Philadelphia Phillies (2007–2010)

Houston Astros (2010–2012)

Toronto Blue Jays (2012–2014)

Seattle Mariners (2015)

Pittsburgh Pirates (2015)

Toronto Blue Jays (2016–2018)

New York Yankees

(2018–present)

Are you excited to be a Yankee? I certainly enjoyed my time in New York, the last couple of months of the 2018 season. It was a big reason why I felt comfortable coming back. At this point in my career, I’ve taken a lot of things into account, but the chance to win was high on that list. I feel like this was a place that you come to the ballpark to win every day. I really appreciated that.

Growing up in Chicago which team did you root for? I was a Cubs fan growing up, but at the same time it wasn’t like I hated the White Sox. I went to a lot of White Sox games when I was a kid. My dad took me to go with other family friends. And then when I went to college at Northwestern in Evanston, we’d just jump on the El Train to go to a lot of Cubs games. We’d get some $10 tickets or whatever they were.

Outside of Yankee stadium, what’s your favorite MLB park and city? A lot of them are so unique and so different that it’s tough. I don’t necessarily like pitching in Colorado but Denver is a nice city. I also like the West Coast, going to San Diego, L.A. and San Francisco.

What do you like doing on off days? If we are in a visiting city for an off day, a lot of guys are going to say, ‘I am going to catch up on sleep’ or ‘I am going to go to a movie’ or just relax. Some guys will go golf, but if I am in a different city I will just bum around the streets and get a feel for the city a little bit. If I am in New York, I will rest up, relax and have a nice dinner or something.

You were a pretty good basketball player in High School; In fact I believe I read that you were MVP of the Tri- County Conference tournament one year. Was there ever a debate about which sport was your favorite? My first love was basketball. That is the sport at which I worked the hardest. There are times that I wonder what could have happened if I pursued basketball over baseball, but it’s probably fair to say I made the right choice for the long term.