Rich Harden feeling better, hoping to resume throwing soon

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To no one’s surprise, A’s pitcher Rich Harden came down with a bit of soreness in his right lat muscle last week after throwing 10-15 pitches in one of his first bullpen sessions of the spring.

The oft-injured starter hasn’t tallied over 150 innings in a season since 2004 and it seemed plausible that this early-spring injury might turn into something more. So far, though, everything is positive.

Harden told the Associated Press, via CSN Bay Area, on Thursday that he is no longer feeling discomfort in the area of his once-sore lat muscle.

He wants to get back on a mound soon, despite the A’s decision to shut him down for two whole weeks.

“It’s coming along,” Harden said Thursday.  “I want to get out there, but it’s on the trainers. I’m 100 percent pain-free.”

The A’s will probably play it safe with Harden given his injury history and keep him sidelined through all of next week, but it’s nice to hear that he is feeling better. The right-hander signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with Oakland this winter and is expected to compete for the final spot in the club’s starting rotation this spring.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.