As the Oakland Athletics prepare for their three-game set with the Chicago White Sox, the team has some injury updates worth noting, featuring Andrew Bailey and Rich Harden. The A’s have dealt with numerous injuries across their roster over the last five or six years. This has happened due to a mix of old or injury prone free agents, and a variety of freak injuries to their home grown talent.
Andrew Bailey is making solid progress in his return from a strained forearm. He went down in a spring training game with what appeared to be a brutal arm injury that resulted in him traveling to visit with Dr. James Andrews. Fortunately it was just a forearm injury and not a tendon injury requiring Tommy John surgery. Today he threw 20 fastballs off the mound and assuming he feels fine going forward, he’ll move back to throwing regular bullpen sessions.
The A’s have been very conservative in working him back from the injury thanks in part to an already strong bullpen. Brian Fuentes has filled the closer role thus far, grabbing three saves in four appearances. However, the team will be in much better shape when Bailey is back closing because then Fuentes drops back into a set-up role with Grant Balfour. This would in turn create greater depth throughout the bullpen.
In other injury news, Rich Harden has suffered a setback in his recovery from a lat strain. Much like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, this is not a surprising development. Harden has always been considered a phenomenal talent, but he’s always dealt with injury issues. I recall somebody once saying the issue with him was that he had the engine of a Ferrari under the hood of a Ford.
The good news for the A’s is that anything they get from Harden this season is a bonus. He was brought in to compete for the fifth starter job, but Brandon McCarthy has handled that position well. The fallback was a spot in the bullpen, but the A’s have considerable depth there. You never like to throw money down the toilet, but given Harden’s upside it was worth the $1.5 million they are giving him for his one year contract.