The Minnesota Twins promised to reconstruct their starting rotation after last year’s abysmal performance that ranked among the league’s worst. For their part, the Twins did go out and acquire Vance Worley and signed Kevin Corriea, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden to solidify the starting rotation.
Early returns have suggested that Pelfrey may not last the entirety of the season or may need a disabled list trip or a trip to the minors to get himself straightened out. Wolrey, on the other hand, has been greatly frustrating and many are starting to question whether or not he will be able to be an effective pitcher in the American League long-term. In Correia’s case, he has been a pleasant surprise and is living up to the bill of being a bulldog on the mound and a great innings-eater for a pitching staff; but with all of the returns the Twins have seen with their off-season investments, what’s been going on with Harden?
Harden, arguably, has one of the highest upsides of all of the off-season signings, but has faced significant injury problems over the duration of his career which has derailed his ability to perform at his best. When healthy, Harden has shown that he can be a very effective pitcher and has front-end type of stuff that can really transform a rotation; but the problem is, he is never healthy.
When the Twins signed Harden, he was coming off of shoulder surgery and the team knew it was going to be a long and risky recovery period, but the team took a chance on him anyway because of the high-upside and low-risk that he possessed. It was believed by the end of spring training that Harden would begin the year on the disabled list and then progressively build himself up to possibly make an appearance in the majors by mid-season. All indications early on, during the first few weeks of April, indicated that Harden was right on schedule for his rehab, but then he suffered a potential setback in late April which has put his future and availability back into question.
Because of the setback, Harden had to be shut down after experiencing soreness. Twins’ General Manager Terry Ryan said Harden was feeling better a week later and that he would resume his rehabilitation a week or so after being shut down. According to a story done in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Ryan stated—in regards to Harden’s setback—that , “That’s not unexpected (Harden’s setback), but we were doing well there for a while and he never had any setbacks and now he came up a little sore in his shoulder, so we backed down.”
Ryan went on to say that, “It’s not unusual for a guy who is coming off of what he’s coming off of to feel a little sore. We aren’t going to push him.”
It seems as if everyone is content with waiting for Harden to return and they are willing to go through the healing pains and setbacks that come along with rehab from surgery. It would be nice to see more progress from Harden because the rotation could sure use him soon; but for the time being, the Twins must go to battle with what they have while they wait for guys like Kyle Gibson, Samuel Deduno and Cole De Vries to emerge as candidates to replace ineffective starters like Pelfrey.
For now, the Twins—and Harden—must wait and see when a possible return to the majors could be. As we know with Harden’s injury riddled past, there is no guarantee that we will ever see him pitch a game for the Twins; but it never hurts to dream, right?