Harden Still A Question Mark

The last two-and-a-half seasons have been forgettable for Oakland A's right-hander Rich Harden. He has been slowed by a myriad of injuries ranging from oblique strains to back muscle tears to elbow problems to shoulder irritation. His most recent injury has kept him out for two weeks and it appears that it will sideline him for at least two more.

Rich Harden went to Los Angeles on Monday and got a second opinion on his injured right shoulder.

The consensus: More rest is needed, which means Harden most likely won't be returning to the A's rotation for at least two weeks.

"We're going to give his arm a week to 10 days off," manager Bob Geren said before Tuesday's game at Boston.

Harden, who was eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, has not thrown in a game since April 15, when he first experienced tightness in his shoulder.

He tried playing catch Thursday but felt soreness and hasn't thrown since.

The A's can go with a four-man rotation for the remainder of this eight-game road trip if they wish. The first game they would absolutely have to have a fifth starter is a May 12 home game against Cleveland.

Left-hander Dallas Braden, who made two starts in place of Harden before being sent down Sunday, is a candidate to rejoin the rotation when that fifth man is called upon.

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