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.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.