He’s been out all season, but A’s right-hander Rich Harden is definitely making progress at making a return to the mound this season. According to the A’s official website, the oft-injured righty had a very positive outing during a quick BP session on Friday.
Harden, 29, has been sidelined for the entire season due to a muscle strain under his right arm. Harden’s career has been plagued by injuries, but when he is healthy, the righty has the stuff of an ace. Oakland’s very thin starting rotation has been hit hard by injuries this season, and with Brett Anderson facing the possibility of Tommy John Surgery, the A’s could definitely use Harden in a hurry.
Considering Harden’s injury history, however, the A’s are probably not going to rush the right-hander. The A’s brought Harden back this season on a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the hopes he could help contribute in either the starting rotation or bullpen.
Last season, Harden went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 20 games with the Texas Rangers. A decrease in his fastball resulted in a decline in his K/9 rate, as it went from 10.92 in 2009 to 7.34 in 2010. The A’s are hoping to see Harden get healthy and return to his 2008 form, where he went 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA while playing for both Oakland and the Chicago Cubs.
In his career, Harden owns a 55-34 record along with a 3.63 ERA in 845.2 major league innings. He possesses a lively fastball, and his fastball-changeup combo works well when he’s healthy.
The A’s rotation could certainly use Harden’s services, but the team won’t rush anything with Harden at this point. His 20 pitch BP session went well, but he’s still a ways a way. He would likely have to go on a minor-league assignment before making a return to Oakland. Nevertheless, he’s making progress.