Athletics

A's Harden pain-free one week after injury

A's Harden pain-free one week after injury

Feb. 24, 2011A'SPAGE A'SVIDEO

PHOENIX (AP) Rich Harden is pain-free and ready to resume his spring training regimen. As soon as Oakland's training staff gives him the OK, that is.The Athletics right-hander was shut down last week, expected to miss two weeks of workouts after experiencing stiffness in the lat muscle below his pitching arm when he tried to throw Feb. 15. Harden still hopes to compete for the fifth spot in the A's talented rotation, even if he is a little bit behind as he begins his second stint with the club.REWIND: A's Harden has stiffness in arm, shut down
"It's coming along,'' Harden said Thursday. "I want to get out there, but it's on the trainers. I'm 100 percent pain-free.''Harden hopes he will be able to throw again before the two-week timetable next week. He has been doing strengthening exercises for his throwing arm to help alleviate the problem. He believes his new mechanics and delivery may have contributed to the injury."He has had kind of a run of bad luck with little, nagging injuries,'' starter Dallas Braden said. "Selfishly, I want him back sooner because if I'm going to be part of a rotation where Rich Harden is battling for a fifth spot, with his front-line ability, I think our rotation is in pretty good shape. The team is in pretty good shape. That speaks volumes about our depth.''The A's are certainly going to be careful with a pitcher who has endured so many injuries in recent years. Harden received a 1.5 million, one-year contract in December to rejoin Oakland. He went 5-5 with a 5.58 ERA in 20 appearances and 18 starts for the Texas Rangers last season, when he struggled with injuries and control. After beginning the season as the Rangers' No. 2 starter, he walked 62 batters in 92 innings.Harden spent two stints on the disabled list in 2010, first from June 12-July 30 with a strained left gluteal muscle and later with right shoulder tendinitis. Texas released him after the regular season.Harden went 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA in only 25 2-3 innings in 2007 because of an inflamed right shoulder, and didn't pitch after July 7 that year. He threw two simulated games late in the season with the hopes of making two final starts, but ultimately decided it wasn't worth risking further injury.He was 4-0 in nine games in 2006, spending time on the disabled list with a strained back and then a strained elbow ligament.Harden understands he has to be a little bit patient - even though he's determined to get going and return to the form he showed in 2008, when he went a combined 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts between Oakland and the Cubs. Chicago acquired him on July 8, 2008, in a trade with the A's."You don't want to go out there too early and set yourself back,'' he said. "At this point you don't need to do that.''

The young A's player that could be biggest beneficiary of Rajai Davis trade

The young A's player that could be biggest beneficiary of Rajai Davis trade

The A's traded veteran center fielder Rajai Davis to the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon, clearing yet another veteran from their roster.

In return they receive 18-year-old outfielder Rafael Rincones, a Venezuela native currently playing in the Dominican Summer League.

The move doesn't come as a shock in the grand scheme of things. Davis, 36, is signed only through this season and didn't fit in the plans of Oakland's current youth movement. He did, however, have to clear waivers before this move could happen. And he joins Yonder Alonso as the second veteran the A's have shipped off after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The move opens up the possibility of Chad Pinder getting some playing time in center field against left-handers, as manager Bob Melvin has said he'd like to get Pinder some starts out there.

With recently promoted Boog Powell playing well in center, there's the chance he could draw some starts against lefties too, so it may not be a straight platoon. Pinder also sees playing time in right field, shortstop and second base.

Teams will continue to call about Klay Thompson and Warriors will keep laughing

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AP

Teams will continue to call about Klay Thompson and Warriors will keep laughing

There is a single reason teams keep sniffing out the availability of Klay Thompson, and it’s far more easily understood than the myriad reasons the Warriors keep telling them no.

No fewer than four teams have either reached out or considered reaching out, the latest being revealed as the detested Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Warriors, of course, declined them, perhaps after general manager Bob Myers put Cavs GM Koby Altman on speakerphone so everybody at Warriors HQ could double over with team-building laughter.

The Cavs got the same answer as was previously heard by the Pacers and the Timberwolves, and maybe even the Celtics, whose interest was rumored though never actually substantiated.

All four teams, though, along with maybe few others, all reached the same conclusion. They looked at the Warriors, studied their prime core, and concluded that Thompson was the most available member.

Clearly more available than Stephen Curry, who is the face of the franchise.

Likely more available than Draymond Green, whose two-way versatility and temperament are vital to the grand ambitions of the Warriors.

And infinitely more available than Kevin Durant, who arrived two years after Minnesota shot its shot -- by dangling Kevin Love -- and evolved into their most impressive overall player.

So it’s Thompson who gets his tires kicked. He’s 27 years old, has two years remaining on his contract and, most germane, seems to be the least emotionally invested star in the organization. That is may not be true, but it’s an easy conclusion based on appearances and the misguided thought that the Warriors don’t value him as much as they do the others.

Wrong.

“It's really cool,” Thompson said Wednesday, referring to being pursued and prized. “It shows the Warriors believe in me and these other teams want me to be a part of their success. So I appreciate it. I've been in trade rumors forever. Everyone has. Except for maybe LeBron James, Steph — well, even Steph early in his career.”

Any team that asks about Thompson is aware that the Thompson-Love deal gained considerable traction in 2014 before it was vetoed by then-adviser Jerry West and newly hired head coach Steve Kerr.

If the Warriors were thinking about it then, why not later?

They have their reasons, beginning with the fact they’ve experienced more success over the past three seasons than at any time in franchise history, winning two championships in three seasons and becoming a regular in the NBA Finals. Why even consider breaking the squad that so clearly is the cream of the NBA?

Another reason is that the Warriors have come to fully understand Thompson’s role in their competitive prosperity. He’s a gunslinger that manages to be highly productive without spending much time with the ball, and his fabulous defense makes that end of the court so much easier for Curry. The Thompson-Curry backcourt is the best in the league and already in the discussion for the best ever.

There is another component that is rather understated. Thompson is the ultimate zero-maintenance All-Star. In a locker room of varied personalities, some loud, nearly all opinionated, he’s like a breeze that is cool enough be felt yet never so much it feels imposing.

The Warriors have come to appreciate Thompson being the closest thing to a wind-up All-Star in a league where that is exceedingly rare. Give him a jersey, a ball and some shoes and let him go.

So, no, he’s not leaving anytime soon. The only way he goes before he becomes a free agent in 2019 -- at which time he’s likely to take a peep around the NBA -- is if the Warriors somehow take a tumble in the standings or try to low-ball him.

Until then, teams may continue to ask. They have to as a strategy to improve themselves while diminishing the league’s powerhouse. Understanding this, the Warriors will take the calls and appreciate the humor of it all.