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Rick Zamperin: J.A. Happ gets opening-day nod for Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ has been named the team's opening-day starter.
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ has been named the team's opening-day starter. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Blue Jays are hoping J.A. Happ will help them launch the 2018 regular season with a victory.

When Toronto lifts the lid on their campaign versus the New York Yankees on March 29, they will give the ball to the 35-year-old veteran lefthander.

Manager John Gibbons has named Happ his opening-day starter, tasking him with trying to keep the big bats in the Yankees’ order at bay.

Easier said than done.

The Bombers are truly back in the Bronx after general manager Andrew Cashman added 2017 major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton in a trade this off-season with the Miami Marlins to join American League longball leader Aaron Judge and slugging catcher Gary Sanchez.

It’s only one game, one of 162, in fact. So it won’t be the end of the world if Toronto loses game No. 1, and a win doesn’t mean the Jays are going all the way either.

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Happ will be followed in the rotation by Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman and newcomer Jaime Garcia.

It will be Happ’s first career season-opening starting assignment after Stroman kicked off the season last year and Estrada was given the ball in the 2016 opener.

As a Blue Jays fan, I am happy for Happ, but at the same time, I’m concerned that he’s going to be the first pitcher to get a taste of the reloaded Evil Empire and it won’t taste good.

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