Slowed by his return from non-throwing shoulder surgery, and the way the schedule broke down, Rich Harden made just his second Cactus League start Monday.
The A's right-hander has thrown two simulated games, which don't come close to simulating the intensity of real games. Harden figured he could throw 120 pitches in a simulated game and it wouldn't be the same as the 75 or so pitches he threw Monday.
Harden is happy with his progress, though, and the results are there, too. Harden struck out seven in five innings and gave up just one run Monday in the A's 7-1 win over the Mariners.
"I guess that means I had decent stuff," Harden said. "I was happy with my changeup and split. I always want to be better, but ... "
Harden is scheduled to start the second game of the season against the Yankees, which gives him two more starts in Arizona.
Like most pitchers this time of year, Harden is still working on getting his mechanics in order. He got into some bad habits the last couple years, since his left shoulder (which leads his delivery to the plate) wasn't secure and popped out of the socket a couple of times.
--INF Antonio Perez, the somewhat forgotten other player acquired in the trade that netted OF Milton Bradley, continues to impress the A's with a fine spring. Perez, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning Monday, has played three infield positions and is batting .344 this spring.
--DH Frank Thomas, playing in the A's minor league complex to get more at-bats, went 3-for-8 with a double and three strikeouts. Two of the whiffs were questionable calls by young catchers, who were calling balls and strikes, and who obviously weren't intimidated by the Big Hurt.
--RHP Kiko Calero pitched a scoreless inning of relief Monday and continues to look impressive this spring. Calero pitched well for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, and he hasn't allowed a run in two innings for the A's.
--OF Jay Payton might be the listed fourth outfielder right now, but he's making a strong bid for more playing time this spring. Payton went 2-for-4 Monday with two runs and two RBIs, including his second homer. He played all nine innings.
--LHP John Rheinecker, who has the chance of making the Opening Day roster if Frank Thomas isn't ready and the A's keep 12 pitchers, pitched two scoreless innings Monday. A's manager Ken Macha would like to keep 12 pitchers, but there isn't room if Thomas is ready.
--OF Doug Clark was sent to the A's minor league camp before Monday's game. Clark didn't get much of a look this spring after hitting .316 in the Giants organization last year and reaching the majors for the first time. But the A's like his tools.
Camp Notes: Harden Rearing Into Shape
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