MESA, Ariz. — Cubs outfielder Ian Happ said Tuesday he plans to be ready for full activity by Opening Day, including throwing from the outfield at full strength with his surgically repaired right arm.
Not so fast.
That’s exactly what manager David Ross said Happ would say when Ross outlined a more deliberate, cautious approach Monday, with use of the newly added designated hitter spot expected for Happ early on.
“We’re just taking it slow, trying to get back to a point where I can make throws from the outfield. The point of the program is to not rush it,” Happ acknowledged, also mentioning the possibility of some DH work early.
“It’s never as fast as the player wants, but that’s all part of it.”
Happ said the “loose bodies” issue with his elbow is something he’s experienced throughout his career but eventually decided to have the “clean out” procedure last month when it cropped up again during the lockout with no way to seek guidance from the Cubs’ medical staff because of the ban on contact between players and teams.
“It was something that had always kind of fixed itself with rest,” he said. “So getting back into hitting and throwing and trying to make sure all the evaluations were right — and then with the complications of not being able to talk. All that stuff went into it.”
The switch-hitter can swing from both sides of the plate without a problem as camp opens this week. All that’s left is completing the throwing program and determining what he can do by the April 7 opener.
A player who has experienced sometimes dramatic streaks and slumps in his career, Happ hesitated to speculate whether the recurring elbow issue has contributed to that.
“There’s things that nag throughout the season. That’s what happens when you play 162,” he said. “Things come up, things crop up. You run into Nico [Hoerner last season] and you have [injured] ribs.
“It’s something that happens throughout the course of the season. That’s just part of being a baseball player.”