That was quick: Rich Harden is already injured

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Rich Harden got hurt before anyone could even set up the “when will Rich Harden get hurt” pool.

According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle the oft-injured right-hander “has stiffness in the lat area” and has been “shut down for a few weeks.”

Slusser reports that he tried to throw Tuesday, but called it quits after 10-15 pitches when the stiffness “didn’t improve immediately.”

Harden, who hasn’t thrown 150 innings in a season since 2004 and has had his incredibly promising career wrecked by one injury after another, returned to Oakland on an incentive-laden one-year deal worth just $1.5 million in guaranteed money.

He’s expected to compete for the fifth spot in the A’s rotation, but this injury could make a bullpen job more likely if/when he gets healthy. And ultimately that might be better for him anyway.

Michael Wacha leaves game with a left oblique strain

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Cardinals starter Michael Wacha suffered a strained left oblique muscle during his start this afternoon against the Phillies, causing him to leave in the fourth inning.

Wacha is 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA and a 71/36 K/BB ratio in 84.1 innings across 15 starts this season with St. Louis. To the extent he has to miss some time — and obliques invariably send starters to the disabled list — potential fill-in candidates include John Gant, Daniel Poncedeleon and Dakota Hudson.