Twins size up pitcher Rich Harden with Spring Training invite

Cesar Tordesillas – 4E Sports Contributor

Minneapolis, MN, United States (4E Sports) – Rich Harden has been signed by the Minnesota Twins to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training Friday.

Harden, 31, missed the entire 2012 season after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair his right rotator cuff on Jan. 31.

“Ultimately, he sat out the entire 2012 season, so we’ll take it easy on him at the start and see how he responds and where he’s at,” said Twins general manager Terry Ryan.

Harden has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.

He last pitched in ’11, when he posted a 5.12 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 31 walks in 82 2/3 innings with the A’s. He also allowed 17 homers in 15 starts.

When healthy, Harden is regarded as one of the better strikeout pitchers in baseball. He struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings in his career. That average ranks third in the Majors dating back to 2003, behind only Tim Lincecum (9.76) and Clayton Kershaw (9.26).

The Victoria, British Columbia, native has a career 3.76 ERA with 949 strikeouts and 422 walks in 928 1/3 innings with the A’s (2003-08, ’11), Chicago Cubs (’08-09) and Texas Rangers (’10).

Harden could be used as a reliever next season, which Ryan said will be determined during Spring Training.

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