Perpetually injured right-hander Rich Harden didn’t pitch in the majors at all this year and hasn’t had an ERA below 5.00 since 2009, but he’s making a comeback at age 31.
Harden’s agent told Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com that he “feels great” and has already “had a lot of interest from clubs.”
For a long time Harden was able to maintain good raw stuff and strong results despite the never-ending arm problems, but in 2008 and 2009 his velocity was down and his ERAs were ugly.
With that said, Harden did manage 166 strikeouts in 175 innings during those two seasons and I’ve always thought some team should give him an extended opportunity in the bullpen to see if he can stay healthy and effective throwing just one inning at a time.
Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.
When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.
Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.