Rich Harden is still trying

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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.

Cubs place Ben Zobrist on 10-day disabled list with back soreness

Ben Zobrist
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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.

Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.

With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.