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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.