Rich Harden has throwing program shut down again

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Rich Harden was slated to throw to hitters Monday for the first time since going on the disabled list, but the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that he had to be shut down again because of his strained lat muscle.

The 29-year-old Harden hasn’t been able to shake the ailment that took him off the mound just a couple of days after he reported to spring training in February.  Originally expected to compete for a rotation spot, he’s now been sidelined for nearly two months and there’s no timetable for his return.

Harden opted to sign the A’s for $1.5 million over the winter, picking a return to his original organization over a similar offer from Colorado.  If he contributes at all this season, it will most likely happen as a reliever.

Phillies sign Trevor Plouffe to minor league deal

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Infielder Trevor Plouffe has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Plouffe asked for and was granted his release from the Rangers earlier this month.

Plouffe, 31, had a double and a home run in 17 plate appearances with Triple-A Round Rock to start the 2018 season. He spent last year with the Athletics and Rays, putting up a meager .198/.272/.318 batting line in 100 games.

Plouffe has mostly played third base throughout his career, but can also handle the other three infield spots and both outfield corners, so he’ll serve as organizational depth at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the Phillies.