Behind-the-scenes trade talks involving Athletics hurler Rich Harden not only have cooled, they have completely discontinued, according to an unnamed team source cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.
It's hardly a surprise considering that Harden is a time bomb set to explode and no one can be sure exactly how long is the fuse.
Though Harden was once described by then teammates Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder as the most gifted pitcher of the four, it becomes more and more clear that the young fireballer's skills -- outstanding though they may be -- far exceed the durability of his smallish, 180-pound frame.
Hardin, 25, had been red-flagged after missing close to two dozen starts last year due to his trick shoulder. He was pronounced well during spring, and when the season started looked 100 percent with his 1.42 ERA and strikeout per inning. But sadly Harden has returned to his all-too-familiar haunts on the disabled list after Dr. Lewis Yocum of Los Angeles concurred with findings from previous examinations showing that rest and rehabilitation are needed reduce discomfort and inflammation.
The findings indicate no serious structural failure, but so did repeated examinations of Cubs pitcher Mark Prior before doctors eventually relented to impose arthroscopic surgery and thus disable him for the season. No wonder Harden suspects that something more serious is afoot, so much so that he doubts his own doctors.
Here's the bottom line: Harden will try to come back within two weeks and may pitch again for awhile. But don't be surprised if he goes down again, requiring minimally that he subject himself to the scope and subsequently be placed on the 60-day disabled list at the very least.