J.A. Happ leaves on stretcher after taking line drive to head

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Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ departed the field on a stretcher after taking a Desmond Jennings line drive off the left side of his head in the second inning of his start Tuesday evening against the Rays.

Happ appeared to be conversing with paramedics as they led him off in a cart, but his neck was stabilized by a brace and he had some blood dribbling out of his left ear. He will probably be taken to a local hospital near Tropicana Field and monitored overnight. We’ll pass along any further updates.

Happ earned a spot in Toronto’s starting rotation with a big spring and signed a two-year, $8.9 million contract extension with the Jays on March 27. He was sporting a 3.98 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 26/18 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings entering Tuesday’s outing.

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UPDATE, 8:33 PM ET: Happ maintained full consciousness on the way to Bayfront Medical Center, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. MLB.com has the replay of the incident:

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.