The demotion may come as a surprise as the switch-hitter was originally projected to be one of the team's primary options at center field and has appeared in 257 big-league games over the last two seasons. He has struggled to find a groove at the plate during spring, however, slashing .135/.196/.192 with 14 strikeouts in 52 at-bats over 17 games.
Maddon added that the Cubs don't have enough at-bats to offer Happ at the big-league level to start the season and the team wants him to develop more consistency swinging left-handed.
Happ apparently didn't take the news well, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPN.
"He's not happy," Maddon said. "He shouldn't be happy. He was surprised. I don't really blame him."
It's a big drop from a year ago for the 24-year-old. Happ hit the first home run of the 2018 MLB season - on the first pitch thrown - when he took Miami Marlins starter Jose Urena deep as the Cubs' leadoff hitter.
"The biggest thing he has to realize is no one is giving up on him," Lester said. "This isn't 'you're going down there and you're stuck down there.'"
This may open the door for Albert Almora Jr. to get more regular playing time based on spring numbers. Almora is hitting .378 with three home runs, a pair of doubles, and eight RBIs in 15 games.