Offseason acquisitions Rich Harden and Rafael Perez are taking it easy thus far at the Minnesota Twins’ Spring Training facility. Both pitchers are recovering from injuries and signed to newly inked minor league contracts with the Twins. So far, it appears they are off to slow starts in Florida. Hoping to break camp with the big league club, neither can afford a setback at this point in the season.
Harden has been injured often throughout his career. In nine seasons the righty has had 10 stints on the disabled list. After his 2012 ended with shoulder surgery, the long time Oakland Athletic considered hanging it up. But when the Twins called this offseason, Harden couldn’t resist giving it another go. The Twins haven’t ruled out giving Harden a spot in their bullpen, although he’s been a starter his whole career.
Similar to Harden, Perez is also coming off shoulder surgery. In 2012 the lefty pitched less than eight innings in the big leagues. However, while Harden has been a starting pitcher whom the Twins are thinking about using out of the pen, Perez is the opposite. He’s spent his career being an effective relief pitcher but the Twins are now considering stretching him out and using him as a starter. It’s not ideal, but with so many question marks in their starting rotation, the Twins would be elated if the crafty Perez could be effective as a starter.
But Twins fans shouldn’t get too excited quite yet. There’s reason to have concerns about both these pitchers. Perez and Harden started Spring Training throwing off a mound but now they are only throwing on flat ground. Perez is playing catch from 90 feet while Harden has been stretched out to 150 feet.
While the Twins have not announced that either pitcher has experienced a setback, it seems evident from where they are in their rehab process. As of now it doesn’t seem likely either pitcher will be making an exhibition appearance anytime soon.