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Rich Harden

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James Richard Harden

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[edit] Biography

Rich Harden is a right-handed pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. Born in the Canadian province of British Columbia, Harden went to school at Central Arizona College and was selected in the 17th round of the 2000 amateur draft. He has four very good pitches: a fastball, a splitter, a slider, and a change. Efective when healthy, injuries cost him significant time from 2005-2007. Harden's latest injury was a battle with shoulder soreness that caused him to miss the majority of the 2007 season.

Harden signed in May of 2001 and the Athletics sent him directly to single-A Vancouver, where he made an immediate impact. He posted a 3.39 ERA and struck out 100 batters in just 74.1 innings. Harden was named "Athletics Minor League Player of the Year" in 2002, after he won 12 games between single-A and double-A, while striking out a total of 187 hitters. It proved to be Harden's last full season in the minors.

The Canadian was a starting pitcher for the 'World' Team in the 2003 Futures Game, he allowed one run in an inning of work. After pitching well in the upper minor league levels in 2003, the A's called on Harden to start against the Kansas City Royals. He gave up just one run in seven innings and struck out four in his major league debut. Harden went on to win his next three starts before losing to Esteban Loaiza and the White Sox. The young righty finished his rookie season with a 5-4 record and a 4.46 ERA.

Harden won 11 games as a 22 year old in 2004. He recorded 167 strikeouts in 189.2 innings, posted a 3.99 ERA, and won eight games in the season's second half. The injury bug bit Harden in 2005, as he missed a good deal of time with an injured oblique muscle. He put up good numbers while healthy, earning a 10-5 record and a 2.53 ERA. Harden pitched two complete games in 2005, both against the Texas Rangers. He missed a third complete game by one out.

A multitude of injuries sidelined Harden in 2006. He started the season 3-0 but went to the DL with a strained lower back. He returned for a game in June, but had to return to the DL with a strained ligament in his arm. Harden appeared for the A's late in the season, even making a playoff start, but did not appear to be at full strenth.

Harden made three tremendous starts in April of 2007, giving up just three runs in 19 innings while striking out 20 batters. He then sat out all of May and most of June with a sore shoulder. He was back with the squad in late June to work in relief. He made one start before falling back to the disabled list with a strain in his right shoulder.

In July 2008, Harden was traded with Chad Gaudin to the Chicago Cubs for Sean Gallagher, infielder Eric Patterson, outfielder Matt Murton and catching prospect Josh Donaldson.

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