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.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.