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.
In the Major League Baseball system, the people are entertained by two separate yet equally important groups. The players who play the game and the umpires who call the balls, strikes and outs. These are their stories.
Wait, that’s not true. They’re not equally important and we certainly don’t want to hear the umpires’ stories. If the stories are about the umpires it usually that means they’ve screwed up.
Not always, though! In 2013, you may recall, I wrote a story about an umpire who made a much talked about call in a World Series game that (a) happened to be right, even if it was much-debated; and (b) his story is one I’ve always found compelling, even if he’s most famous for a call he got wrong.
Jim Joyce, though, an umpire who was widely admired and respected despite his famous blunders, is one of the few exceptions to the rule about what it means to know an umpires’ name. Most of the time we’re all lucky — umpires included — if the introductions are the first and last time we hear of them.
Here they are for the 2018 World Series, with Game 1 assignments noted:
Home: Tim Timmons
1B: Kerwin Danley
2B: Ted Barrett — Crew Chief
3B: Chad Fairchild
LF: Jeff Nelson
Replay, Games 1-2: Fieldin Culbreth
Replay, Game 3-End: Tim Timmons