Rich Harden

Rich Harden strikes out side twice in first rehab start

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Rich Harden pitched three hitless innings and fanned six while walking just one Monday in his first rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento.

Harden, who has been on the DL since the beginning of the season with a shoulder strain, threw 30 of his 42 pitches for strikes.

The A’s may well have used Harden as a reliever had he made it through the spring healthy, but since they currently have four of their top six starters on the DL in Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross, there’s no doubt that Harden is being groomed to slide into the rotation once he’s ready.

And since he threw just 42 pitches today, that’s going to take a while.  Even if Harden doesn’t experience any setbacks — and that’s far, far from a given — he might not debut until after the All-Star break.  At the bare minimum, he’s likely to need three more rehab starts to get stretched out.

 

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.

Royals sign Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 02:  Starting pitcher Danny Duffy #41 of the Kansas City Royals pitches during the game against the Detroit Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on September 2, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Kansas City Royals have signed starter Danny Duffy to a five-year, $65 million contract extension.

Duffy was arbitration eligible this offseason and would’ve been a free agent next winter if he hadn’t signed the deal. Given his stuff he might’ve made a mint as a free agent, but he’s also been inconsistent at times and any pitcher is an injury away from losing a payday, making this a nice, lucrative bet for the lefty.

Duffy, 28, posted a 3.51 ERA and a 188/42 K/BB ratio across 179.2 innings in 2016.