Rich Harden strikes out side twice in first rehab start

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Rich Harden pitched three hitless innings and fanned six while walking just one Monday in his first rehab start for Triple-A Sacramento.

Harden, who has been on the DL since the beginning of the season with a shoulder strain, threw 30 of his 42 pitches for strikes.

The A’s may well have used Harden as a reliever had he made it through the spring healthy, but since they currently have four of their top six starters on the DL in Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy and Tyson Ross, there’s no doubt that Harden is being groomed to slide into the rotation once he’s ready.

And since he threw just 42 pitches today, that’s going to take a while.  Even if Harden doesn’t experience any setbacks — and that’s far, far from a given — he might not debut until after the All-Star break.  At the bare minimum, he’s likely to need three more rehab starts to get stretched out.