Still, the Twins had inquired about Harden's plans, and he was intrigued. His wife, Kelsey, is from Bagley, Minn., about 25 miles west of Bemidji, and he had always pitched well in the cold. He visited famed surgeon Dr. James Andrews, fearing the worst.
Andrews, though, told him by reattaching the shoulder capsule, in effect "tightening" his shoulder, he could have a full recovery.
Harden was so excited, he scheduled the surgery within a day -- and told the Twins he was taking 2012 off.
Rob Antony, Twins assistant general manager, said he told Harden that he appreciated his integrity.
He "could have signed with us, come to spring training, and then said, 'Ahh, it's hurting again, I'm having surgery,' " Antony said. "Then we're on the hook for paying him and paying for the surgery and all the other stuff. He didn't do that. He said, "I just wanted to be healthy again.' "
It's a really interesting story, both about the pain Harden has handled and how the Twins and he found common ground. It makes me even more optimistic about him being part of the team. (And maybe even re-signing if he stays healthy.)