Rich Harden

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.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.