Spring brings optimism. Sometimes so much optimism that you believe crazy, irrational things. Things like Rich Harden pitching in the majors this year. As you’ll recall, he signed a minor league deal with the Twins back in December and he’s giving it yet another go:
“It felt pretty good,” said Harden, who is trying to make the club as a non-roster invite. “It was fun. It was good to get back out there. I’m hoping it’ll feel the same when I start facing hitters. I threw mostly fastballs because I’m trying to get that feel back.”
Harden did not pitch at all in 2012. In the two years before that he posted a combined ERA of 5.36 in 35 games. He has pitched over 150 innings exactly once in his career, and that was in 2004. I would venture a guess that he has had more surgeries than wins over the past three years.
Which is sad, because there was a time when his promise and his stuff looked so, so good. Unfortunately his body is simply not built to withstand throwing the same pitches that his talents enable him to throw. It’s sad, and I hope his comeback is successful, but it’s very hard to see this ending well.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.