Shut down in mid-March with a strained shoulder, Rich Harden threw a bullpen session this morning and reported no problems.
Harden is still a simulated game followed by a minor-league rehab assignment from potentially coming off the disabled list, and given his extensive injury history counting on him to avoid further setbacks is obviously wishful thinking.
A’s manager Bob Geren indicated to Jane Lee of MLB.com that the team is in no rush to get Harden back and also hinted that they may view him as a reliever at this point despite signing him to compete for a rotation spot.
Harden no doubt wants another chance to start, but his best chance to make an impact and stay off the DL for more than a few weeks at a time is probably in the bullpen anyway.
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.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
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.