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.

Michael Brantley has ankle surgery, to be sidelined 4-5 months

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The Cleveland Indians just announced that outfielder Michael Brantley underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery yesterday, aimed at stabilizing ligaments. He’s expected to be able to resume baseball activities in 4-5 months, which is likely to delay the beginning of his 2018 season.

Brantley only played in 90 games for the Indians in 2017, sitting out most of August and all of September, but returning for the postseason. He injured the ankle in a game against the Rockies on August 8 and it never did get quite right, as his 1-for-11 line in the ALDS suggested. On the season as a whole Brantley hit .299/.357/.444 with nine homers and 52 driven in.

Brantley’s contract expires with the 2017 season, but there is a 2018 team option at a relatively reasonable $11 million. While he has only played 101 games in the past two seasons combined due to injuries, his strong performance from 2012-2015, and his status as a team leader, will likely lead the Indians to exercise that option.