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Rich Harden to compete for rotation spot with A’s, but bullpen also an option

Dec 22, 2010, 10:48 AM EDT

rich harden a's

Rich Harden’s one-year, $1.5 million contract with the A’s became official yesterday and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that he’ll compete for a rotation spot in spring training, with a spot in the bullpen looming as the fallback option.

Harden indicated that he’d prefer to remain a starter, but told Slusser that he’s not against the idea of moving to the bullpen if necessary: “When I have pitched out of the bullpen I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve always wanted to do it sometime in my career, so I’m not opposed to it.”

Harden has essentially never been healthy as a starter, going on the disabled list nine times in eight seasons and throwing more than 150 innings just once during that time, so it would make sense to see if shorter outings as a reliever could keep him off the DL and perhaps even give his velocity a boost after his fastball lost some zip over the past few seasons.

He went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA and 75/62 K/BB ratio in 92 innings spread over 18 starts and two reliefs outings for the Rangers, marking the first time Harden’s performance has slipped significantly along with his annual injuries.

  1. apbaguy - Dec 22, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    The A’s have an interesting situation for their rotation. The nominal rotation is:

    Anderson
    Cahill
    Braden
    Gio
    open

    With Harden, McCarthy, Outman and others in the mix during Spring for the #5 spot.

    The ERAs last year of the A’s starters combined for the best in MLB, which is a tribute to the improved A’s defense (very good to great at every position), to the steps forward the young staff made, and to the vast foul ground at the Mausoleum that makes it such a pitcher’s park.

    But. The elephant in the room for the A’s is always injuries. Anderson flirted with arm problems last year. Braden has been dinged up before. Harden and McCarthy we know about, and Outman is coming off TJ. It’s safe to assume we’ll see all those guys opening games for the A’s at some point this year, and hopefully 2 of the starters and maybe 3 will avoid the DL all year.

    • Adam - Dec 22, 2010 at 9:25 PM

      The elephant in the room for the A’s isn’t injuries to their starters, it’s the complete lack of offense.

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