A’s shut Rich Harden down for another whole week

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A’s pitcher Rich Harden told reporters on Thursday that his stiff lat muscle was “coming along” and that he was “100 percent pain-free.”

Either he wasn’t telling the whole truth or the A’s are simply playing it extra careful with the oft-injured right-hander, because he has been shut down for another seven days.

The news comes from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Harden was originally shut down by the Oakland coaching staff on February 15 after he complained of discomfort in the area of his right lat following a 10-pitch bullpen session. It’s early, and it’s still quite possible that Harden will be able to catch up with other Oakland pitchers by the time the regular season begins, but he can probably be ruled out of the competition for the club’s final rotation spot.

That gig will go to either Josh Outman or Brandon McCarthy, who have both looked good this spring and will now be a full two weeks ahead of Harden on the conditioning front.

Harden may have to settle for a long relief job if he wants to crack the Opening Day roster.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.