"Manager Bob Geren said that if Rich Harden felt good after playing catch, a decision would be made on what to do with him next. Geren later mentioned that Harden's next outing might be a start rather than three innings of relief.
Harden's throwing went well. He'll throw a bullpen session today. And though no one would say so directly, it's very possible that he will start Saturday against Seattle.
Harden, all smiles but few answers, acknowledged that he'd prefer to start whenever he can because, he said, "It's more familiar to me. The bullpen is harder on your body when you're not used to it.''
Harden, who hasn't started since mid-April because of a shoulder impingement, has had great numbers against the Mariners throughout his career (5-1, 1.28 ERA) and Saturday's scheduled starter, Lenny DiNardo, has struggled his past few outings -- plus, DiNardo would be available in long relief. Harden threw 47 pitches Saturday, so he could throw 60-65."
"Rich Harden looked strong during a bullpen session Wednesday, the clinching factor in deciding he's ready to return to the A's rotation.
Starting pitching has been the team's strength, but no doubt the A's will welcome Harden's presence if he remains healthy.
The right-hander is scheduled to take the ball Saturday against the Seattle Mariners, his first start since being sidelined April 15 because of a right-shoulder strain.
"He threw a great side today and has recovered close to 100 percent," pitching coach Curt Young said. "He should be on schedule for Saturday."
Harden has built his pitch count up through three relief appearances. Manager Bob Geren declined to specify a pitch count for Harden on Saturday, but said he plans to pencil Harden in every fifth day if all goes well.
Geren acknowledged Harden's return can provide a lift for the team.
"He's one of the best in the business," Geren said. "Our top three in the rotation have been very good and our other two have been pretty good, too."
Geren and Young have yet to map out the rotation coming out of next week's All-Star break, when the A's travel to Minnesota for a four-game series. But if Harden pitches well Saturday, a turn on four days' rest would put him in line to face the Twins on July 12.
"A lot depends on how he does Saturday," Geren said."
dundeeslugger wrote:The start won't happen. NO way in hell a guy that's been out for this long comes back and pitches 1 inning of relief and then says his arm hurts again makes a start a week later.
nope, 1 inning, then 1 inning, then 2 innings.
Yeah and he threw 47 pitches in those 2 innings (lots of foul balls), so a start of 60-65 piches wouldn't exactly be a stretch. If he does start and can pitch as efficiently as usual (i.e. not 47 pitches in 2 innings) that might get him through 5 innings, but it'd be close. At any rate if it went well he could be ready for 80-90 pitches in the next start. Although unlikely maybe Harden will shock the entire baseball world and stay healthy enough make most of his scheduled starts in the 2nd half. I mean stranger things have already happened this year, like Charlie Manuel taking his ace and putting him in the bullpen, Fuentes making the allstar team the day he got demoted, and Iron-man Tejada hitting the DL.