Twins newcomer Happ back on mound after positive virus test

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Texas Rangers starting pitcher Kohei Arihara, of Japan, throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Eager for a fresh start with a new team, J.A. Happ needed to slow down before throwing a single pitch for the Minnesota Twins.

The left-hander tested positive for COVID-19 upon reporting to spring training, putting his practice schedule on hold.

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Happ cleared virus protocols on Tuesday and took part in team workouts for the first time at camp in Fort Myers, Florida. The rest of the Twins played an exhibition game against Atlanta in North Port.

The 38-year-old Happ, who left the New York Yankees and signed in January with the Twins for $8 million this season, acknowledged feeling anxious about making up for the lost time and “pressing a little bit” in his bullpen session.

Happ said his senses of smell and taste have not yet returned, but beyond that he feels fine physically.

“It is strange. I make a protein smoothie every day, and I just remember one day waking up and I made that, and I just thought, ‘Did I make the wrong ingredients in here? It just doesn’t taste anywhere close,’” Happ said.

“And then I realized two minutes later that’s sort of a symptom that you get with this. That was over a week ago now. But I think it is coming back. I feel like I’m getting slight bits here and there, so hopefully that continues,” he said.

The two-time AL Central champion Twins are hoping Happ can give them a veteran presence at the back of their rotation. A 20-game winner with Toronto in 2016 and an All-Star in 2018 while pitching for the Blue Jays and Yankees, Happ went 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in nine starts last year.



Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a grand slam, punctuating the long drive with a little bat flip. The 22-year-old shortstop, fresh off his $340 million, 14-year contract, rekindled memories of last season’s Slam Diego when the Padres became the first team in MLB history to hit a slam in four straight games.

Tatis also teamed on a double steal with Trent Grisham swiping home.

Arizona starter Caleb Smith was tagged for six runs on four hits and two walks in two innings.


Travis d’Arnaud homered in his first spring at-bat and Ender Inciarte got two hits for Atlanta. Ian Anderson pitched two scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk.

Max Kepler and Byron Buxton each singled for Minnesota.


Adam Wainwright, back for his 16th season with St. Louis at age 39, looked as sharp as ever, pitching two perfect innings and striking out one. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt each got one of the Cardinals’ four singles.

Miami starter Pablo Lopez gave up two hits in two innings.

METS 2, ASTROS 0 (7)

Marcus Stroman, who opted out of playing last season because of coronavirus concerns, pitched two perfect innings for the Mets. He struck out two and threw 30 pitches.

New York newcomer James McCann made his spring debut behind the plate and threw out a runner trying to steal. Jeff McNeil hit a solo home run in his first at-bat and Albert Almora Jr. also connected. Jordan Yamamoto, acquired from Miami to compete for a starting job, threw two innings.

Houston piggy-backed a pair of starters with Framber Valdez yielding McNeil's homer in the first two innings, striking out two. Cristian Javier, who finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season, followed with two shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two.


Aaron Judge doubled and scored for New York. Gleyber Torres had two hits, scoring a run. Jordan Montgomery allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in two innings.

Trey Mancini had a sacrifice fly in his second game since missing last season recovering from surgery for colon cancer. Cedric Mullins tripled and singled for Baltimore, scoring a run from the leadoff spot and driving in one.


Steven Matz allowed a hit in two scoreless innings, striking out three without a walk. Toronto got him from the Mets for three pitching prospects in the offseason. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a solo homer for the Blue Jays.

Zack Wheeler threw two scoreless innings for Philadelphia, giving up one hit.


J.D. Martinez, who vowed to bounce back from a 2020 season that saw him bat just .213 in 54 games, singled twice in three trips and scored a run for Boston.

Enrique Hernandez hit a solo home run and walked twice. Rafael Devers and Yairo Munoz both hit two-run homers for the Red Sox. Martin Perez pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit.

Newcomer Michael Wacha made his first start for Tampa Bay, walked one in a scoreless inning.


Willi Castro hit a solo homer and a two-run double and JaCoby Jones added a two-run double for Detroit.

Todd Frazier hit his second home run for Pittsburgh.

CUBS 3, ROYALS 2 (7)

Outfielder Rafael Ortega, who signed a minor league deal with Chicago after playing 34 games for Atlanta last season, hit a bases-loaded triple. Adbert Alzolay, competing for the final rotation spot, pitched a perfect inning in his first start.

Kansas City starter Jacob Junis struck out three in two shutout innings. Newcomer Andrew Benintendi went 0 for 3.


White Sox ace Lucas Giolito struck out four in his first start, yielding Ronald Guzman’s solo home run in two innings.

AL MVP José Abreu hit an RBI double. Designated hitter Andrew Vaughn, Chicago’s top prospect, hit a three-run homer off Texas starter Kohei Arihara in the first inning.

Arihara, signed from Japan and slotted as the Rangers’ fourth starter, surrendered three runs on five hits and a walk. Both of his innings were shortened because of pitch counts.

Joey Gallo hit his second home run for Texas.


Josh Naylor drove in three runs with a pair of doubles for Cleveland. Andres Gimenez, who came over from the Mets in the trade from Francisco Lindor, has yet to be retired this spring — he went 2 for 2 for the second straight game, including his first home run.

Yusei Kikuchi, bidding for a rotation spot, got the start for Seattle. He allowed one run, striking out three in two innings. Taylor Trammell doubled in a run.


Christian Yelich doubled in his first action for Milwaukee. Travis Shaw had an RBI single.

Ramon Laureano tripled for Oakland and his replacement, Buddy Reed, homered for the second time this spring.

REDS 7, ANGELS 5 (8)

Los Angeles newcomer José Iglesias hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Cincinnati prospect Hunter Greene, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 amateur draft.

Greene's first four pitches clocked 101-103 mph, according to game broadcasters and media reports. The 21-year-old righty was pitching in a game for the first time since July 2018 with Class A Dayton because of an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery in April 2019.

Taylor Ward also went deep for the Angels, and starter Andrew Heaney allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings. Eugenio Suárez doubled and scored for the Reds.


Walker Buehler pitched two scoreless innings in his spring debut for the World Series champion Dodgers, and Dustin May followed with two shutout innings as well. Mookie Betts was 1 for 2 with a double.


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