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MLB Minnesota Twins

Returning From Layoff, Rich Harden Hopes To Finally Avoid DL With Minnesota Twins

Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins will go into the upcoming season with a rotation that has its share of question marks, and one that will likely rely heavily on the team’s defense to get outs each game.

But, the team has a secret weapon they hope to deploy who could change that.

That would be Rich Harden, the 31-year old righty whose career is perhaps more well known for that has gone wrong more so than what has gone right.

As for former, I’d be referring to the injuries, of which there were many to Harden’s shoulder. After staving off major surgery for years, Harden finally went under the knife in the middle of 2011, and the recovery caused him to miss all of the 2012 season.

When he was on the mound though, there was little doubt that Harden had some of, if not the very best stuff in the league.

Harden has said that he’s been “dealing with this shoulder issue for five years” since he hurt it in 2007, and in the time between then and the end of his 2011 season, only one starter – Brandon Morrow of the Toronto Blue Jays – struck out batters at a higher rate than Harden.

And it was only by a hair, too – Morrow’s K/9 was 10.04 over 405 IP, 0.1 higher than Harden’s 10.03 over 482.2.

The problem, of course, is that the Twins’ right-hander only threw that number of innings over a five-year span, but that’s something that Harden will be hoping to change in Minnesota. He’ll need the team to decide what his role is, though.

According to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, the Victoria, B.C. native threw his first bullpen session for the team this week without issues, and the team is currently undecided whether he will continue in camp as a reliever or be stretched out to start.

Before all that happens, Harden will need to make sure that his shoulder is right, and he’s said to be feeling “as healthy as ever” in his quest to pitch an entire year while avoiding the DL.

Regardless of what his role might be, that’ll be easier said than done. But, if he can make it on the team and be healthy enough to stay there, Twins fans will almost certainly have a whole lot more strikeouts to look forward to in 2013