Rich Harden is on the comeback trail again

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Shut down in mid-March with a strained shoulder, Rich Harden threw a bullpen session this morning and reported no problems.

Harden is still a simulated game followed by a minor-league rehab assignment from potentially coming off the disabled list, and given his extensive injury history counting on him to avoid further setbacks is obviously wishful thinking.

A’s manager Bob Geren indicated to Jane Lee of MLB.com that the team is in no rush to get Harden back and also hinted that they may view him as a reliever at this point despite signing him to compete for a rotation spot.

Harden no doubt wants another chance to start, but his best chance to make an impact and stay off the DL for more than a few weeks at a time is probably in the bullpen anyway.

Video: Starling Marte refuses to take first base after being hit by pitch

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was hit on the hand by a Jack Flaherty pitch in the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Cardinals. Rather than take first base, Marte — who came to the plate with a runner on first base — insisted to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman that the ball hit the knob of the bat, not his hand. Marte was allowed to continue his at-bat, though manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the ruling with Dreckman. Marte eventually grounded into a fielder’s choice. He then got caught attempting to steal second base and the Pirates scored zero runs in the inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, a team that has runners on first and second with no outs is expected to score 1.55 runs. Having a runner on first base with one out yields 0.56 expected runs. Marte essentially cost his team a run by rejecting first base. Oops.