Following recent reports of more shoulder “issues” for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Rich Harden, Harden announced that he will not pitch for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The Canadian Team had included Harden on the preliminary roster, and Harden hoped to pitch in March for his home country, but he recently concluded that he won’t be 100% by the time the World Baseball Classic starts on March 5, 2009. Harden did not pitch in the 2006 World Baseball Classic as he was also dealing with arm issues back then.
Harden made 25 starts in 2008 with the Cubs and the A’s. He was 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA, including a 5-1 record with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts with the Cubs during the second half of the 2008 MLB season. Harden summed up the situation best: “In my heart I was hoping it would work out, but in my head I had a feeling it wouldn’t. It’s very disappointing not to play for Canada, but my No. 1 priority is the Cubs. I’ve just started to throw, and it is too soon for me.”
Let’s hope Harden’s ongoing off-season regimen works as well as Kerry Wood’s program did before the 2008 MLB season. Harden needs to strengthen the muscle and tissue surrounding the tear in the shoulder in order to be effective in 2009. If he half-asses it or doesn’t build it up enough before he starts throwing, we could be dealing with this shoulder issue all season long. Hopefully Harden and the Cubs trainers have a good game plan in place. Especially with the departure of Jason Marquis (who may not have been the most effective pitcher, but gave you innings each and every year), it will be very frustrating to have to deal with finding 2 consistent starters for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation during the course of the 2009 MLB campaign. We’ll keep you posted with any update here at MyCubsToday!