A Healthy Rich Harden Could Find a Place in Minnesota Twins’ Rotation

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more intriguing acquisitions of the Minnesota Twins’ 2013 offseason was the signing of right-handed pitcher Rich Harden. The Twins inked the Canadian to a one-year minor league deal with an invite to the big league camp. Harden, who was considering retirement before the Twins called, has had 10 stints on the disabled list over the last nine seasons. He missed all of 2012 after undergoing shoulder surgery. It’s been a long road to recovery but he hopes to use his newly repaired shoulder to re-discover success.

Harden has certainly had success, when healthy, in his nine year big league career, striking out 949 in 928 innings and posting a 3.76 career ERA. His best years came early in his career with the Oakland A’s where he compiled a 31-18 record over five and a half seasons. In 2008, when the A’s traded him to the Chicago Cubs, was one of the best pitchers in the league. That year Harden went 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA. The hard throwing righty struck out 181 in 148 innings pitched.

Since then Harden has had mixed success, doing his best to stay on the field despite a laundry list of injuries.

The good news for Twins fans is that he feels good thus far. He threw his first bullpen of spring training earlier this week, pain free. It was the eighth time since the surgery the threw off a mound. Clocking serious innings after shoulder surgery could be wishful thinking for Twins fans, but if he can rebound, he would be a nice change of pace in the Twins otherwise contact heavy rotation.

It was one of many low-risk, high-reward signings this year for the Twins who are looking to improve their 3rd worst team ERA in 2012. Harden is still relatively young and at age 31, it’s not totally out of the question that nine-year veteran could come back from surgery, strong. If he can, it will be a much needed boost for the Twins in 2013. Be sure to monitor Harden’s progress through spring training right here at rantsports.com.

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