Off-Day News….and a Rumor

The Cubs begin a string of 13 straight on Tuesday night with the first of three against the Baltimore Orioles. The Cubs will make a roster move before the game to make room for Sean Marshall to replace Carlos Zambrano in the starting rotation. A report in the Tribune from Paul Sullivan on Monday night indicated the Cubs could place Reed Johnson on the DL instead of sending down Eric Patterson, Matt Murton or Micah Hoffpauir.

While Jeff Samardzija was promoted to the Iowa Cubs over the weekend and will make his first Triple-A start on Tuesday night….the struggles of Rich Hill have landed the southpaw back in Mesa for what a report on Cubs.com described as “for some extra tutoring.” The same report also stated Felix Pie was headed to Mesa to undergo an MRI on his left hand and will rehab there.” Pie apparently “jammed” or “injured” his hand on “an awkward swing and has been playing in pain for a few games.

Here is the rest from Monday and more from the Rich Harden rumor mill…. Reports over the weekend suggested Rich Hill needed a break and he will work through his difficulties in Mesa with Rick Tronerud and Mark Riggins. Hill’s struggles appear to be more mental than physical and the Cubs are wanting him to work through his struggles outside of game situations.

Kevin Hart underwent tests on Monday for the mild concussion he suffered last week and “could start one of the games” for the Iowa Cubs on either Friday or Saturday.

Rich Harden

Dave Kaplan discussed the Rich Harden rumor in detail on Monday night and stated the A’s right-hander is at the top of the Cubs list once again. Jeff Fletcher of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat joined Kaplan and the two discussed Haren as well as the possibilities of him being traded to the Cubs.

The majority of the interview focused on the health of Rich Harden. Fletcher stated when healthy, Harden is one of the top pitchers in all of baseball and a tremendous strikeout pitcher. Fletcher reiterated that Harden has not made more than 11 starts in a season for 3 years and the A’s will be looking for a very good package in order to let go of Harden.

Kaplan asked Fletcher to compare Harden to another pitcher and he could not right away. After Kaplan pushed a little, Fletcher compared him to Kerry Wood….both with his injury history and how good he is on the mound, when he is capable of pitching. Fletcher compared Harden’s stuff to that of Kerry Wood’s.

Kaplan asked Fletcher if he would trade for Harden if he were the Cubs. Would it be worth the risk? Fletcher said it would be a gamble, a “game of chicken” and would be worth the risk considering how good he is….when healthy.

Fletcher said Harden is a good guy and a little sick of the injury prone tag that he has been labeled with. Fletcher added Harden has questioned the A’s medical staff and might welcome a change of scenery. Fletcher said if Harden is traded to a NL team it might open “another can of worms” because Harden would have to hit and run bases which could lead to more injuries.

With the A’s being in contention, Billy Beane would want more for Harden right now but if Oakland falls out of the race in the next month the asking price for Harden would go down.

Kaplan asked Fletcher if he were the Cubs would he “trade all of his bullets” for Harden and Fletcher responded with he did not know if he would. Fletcher added he would not give up three or four players for Harden, but maybe two.

After the interview, Kaplan added “it will cost a ton” for the Cubs to add Rich Harden, but that a Cubs’ rotation that includes both Carlos Zambrano and Harden could be “real nasty.

Paul Sullivan speculated that if the Cubsmake a move” for Rich Harden, Micah Hoffpauir might be included in the package.