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Twins Ink Rich Harden to Minor League Deal

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ID:	2938The Minnesota Twins continue to stockpile arms for what could be an interesting competition for a rotation spot this spring.

First reported by the Star Tribune’s LeVelle Neal yesterday, the Twins moved quickly and signed right-handed starter Rich Harden to a minor league deal to include a spring training invite.

Harden, 31, missed all of 2012 after a shoulder strain necessitated rotator cuff surgery.

Interestingly enough, the injury’s origin, Harden believes, was sustained in 2007 when he tore the capsule attempting to field a comebacker bare handed against the Yankees. The Athletics did not disclose the injury because of medical privacy laws. In order to combat the problem, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Harden revamped his mechanics in 2008. The disruption in his shoulder may have sparked a lengthy list of other ailments as he tried to compensate for his original injury.

When healthy, he has been a front-end type starter. In fact, dating back to 2008, no one has missed more bats than Harden. Armed with a lethal slider, Harden has a career swinging strike rate of 12.5% and has a career strikeout rate of 24.2%.

Of course, the is plenty of risk suggesting that following a rotator cuff surgery, he may never fully regain his stuff prior to the repair. As Houston’s team physician, Dr. David Lintner, told MLB.com in 2007, unlike Tommy John surgery, rotator cuff repair is not nearly as easy to return from:

"Rotator cuff surgery is trying to repair a frayed tendon, comparable to sewing a small hole together or sewing a large hole together with shades of gray in between. The main task with Tommy John surgery [is] you are reconnecting a cable or tendon. With the rotator cuff, you're talking about the shoulder and repairing a muscle and a tendon. But it's more than just repairing it, you have to be able to repair the muscle and yet have it be extremely flexible."
Linter goes on to estimate that of pitchers who have complete tears of their rotator cuff, there is a fifty-fifty chance they get back on the mound.

Harden could wind up this year’s version of Joel Zumaya: an oft-injured pitcher with tons of promise but ultimately ends up a failure to launch in Florida. That notwithstanding, the Twins have made a calculated signing and have acquired for pennies an arm that is capable of missing a substantial amount of bats – something lacking at the highest levels. If he does not pan out as a starter, Harden could still be a serviceable arm in the bullpen in a limited capacity.

In addition to inking Harden, the Twins also announce their list of spring training invitees. The list includes pitchers Bryan Augenstein, Nick Blackburn, Deolis Guerra, Alex Meyer, Lester Oliveros and Anthony Slama; outfielders Brandon Boggs and Clete Thomas; infielders Jeff Clement, Chris Colabello, Ray Olmedo and Mark Sobolewski; and catchers Kyle Knudson, Danny Lehmann and Dan Rohlfing.

Also revealed, starter Scott Diamond had a scope on his left elbow to remove some bone chips on Tuesday.

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