MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins signed right-hander Rich Harden to a minor-league contract Friday with an invitation to compete for a spot on the staff in spring training.
The 31-year-old Harden sat out the 2012 season after surgery on Jan. 31 to repair the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, his latest setback in a long line of arm problems. Harden has the third-best strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio in the majors since his debut with Oakland in 2003, behind only Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw.
But Harden, after going 11-7 with a 3.99 ERA in 31 starts over 189 2-3 innings in his first full year in the majors in 2004, hasn't surpassed the 150-inning mark since. Between the A's and the Chicago Cubs in 2008, Harden finished 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 25 combined starts, posting 181 strikeouts in 148 innings. But he had a 5.58 ERA in 2010 with the Texas Rangers, accumulating only 92 innings and had a 5.12 ERA in 15 starts in his return to the A's in 2011. Harden has been hit by a number of injuries, but the shoulder has given him the most trouble.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Harden was a 17th-round draft pick in 2000 out of Central Arizona College.