The story of Rich Harden’s career is injuries; he gets hurt so often, he has pitched more than 148 innings only once in his nine major-league seasons.
Well, what if teams asked less of Harden? What if they tried him as a late-inning reliever who worked one inning rather than as a starter who was extended every fifth day?
The idea isn’t so far-fetched.
Harden, a free-agent right-hander, is drawing interest from clubs that would use him either as a starter or reliever, according to major-league sources.
Teams never question Harden’s stuff; he has averaged more than a strikeout per inning in his career. Working out of the bullpen, he likely would throw even harder. And his chances of staying healthy probably would be greater.
Harden, 30, spent last season with the Oakland Athletics, but was sidelined until July 1 with a strained lat muscle on his right side. He went 4-4 with a 5.12 ERA after joining the rotation, and again struggled with home runs.
In his last two seasons with the Athletics and Texas Rangers, Harden has allowed a combined 35 homers in 174 2/3 innings.