Ouch – not the way you want to end the spring – Rich Harden served up 3 home runs (2 to mark Teixeira) in only 3 2/3 innings of work in his final “tune-up” of the spring. Harden labored through 76 pitches, throwing only 41 pitches for strikes. Harden gave up 7 earned runs (8 runs total) on 7 hits, plus 4 walks.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, news out of New York was that his best fastball didn’t top 85 MPH. This is not good news for the Cubs – if Harden is topping out anywhere below 90 MPH on his fastball, we could be in for a painful season with Harden. Now I know that Harden, GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella will say that he was working on his delivery, trying to spot pitches and trying to mix up the speeds on his pitches, but this doesn’t explain the very low velocity. This makes Harden’s first start in Milwaukee over the weekend even more intriguing. If he has a poor outing, look for Cubs fans to panic big time.
One positive note from the 10-1 drubbing – Alfonso Soriano hit a solo home run and looks in great shape to have a huge year in the leadoff spot for the Cubs.