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Red Sox Trade With A’s For Rich Harden Falls Through

By Janie McCauley, AP Baseball Writer
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Rich Harden was nearly traded to the Red Sox on Saturday. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Rich Harden was nearly traded to the Red Sox on Saturday. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A trade that had been in the works to send right-hander Rich Harden from the Oakland Athletics to the Boston Red Sox fell through late Saturday, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.

Harden isn’t headed for Beantown after all. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of such talks.

The pitcher said after Saturday night’s 8-3 win over Minnesota that general manager Billy Beane told him he was staying put and would start Tuesday. The Red Sox and A’s had been close to agreeing on the swap that would have sent Harden to Boston and brought Triple-A first baseman Lars Anderson to the A’s.

“I just spoke with Billy and he says I’m an ‘A’ and I’m starting on Tuesday in Seattle,” Harden told reporters. “It’s definitely a strange position to be in, but from what I hear I’m here and I’m staying here. I’m happy to be an ‘A’. … It’s definitely a strange position to be in.”

Neither team had commented on the potential deal.

“I’ve heard the story, but I have nothing to report,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after his team’s 10-2 win over the White Sox in Chicago on Saturday.

The oft-injured Harden is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in five starts since coming off the 60-day disabled on July 1.

Harden, 29, has been eager to prove himself again after so many injury-shortened seasons, including missing the first three months of this year with an injury behind his pitching shoulder. When healthy, he can be as dominant as many of baseball’s top pitchers — but that has been his biggest problem in recent years.

Harden received a $1.5 million, one-year contract in December to rejoin Oakland, the team that drafted him in the 17th round in 2000. Harden 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 gave up three hits and two runs over six innings in a start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday, when he retired the first nine batters and didn’t allow a hit until Ben Zobrist’s leadoff single in the fifth.

Harden retired the next two batters and finished with seven strikeouts and two walks. He left with a 5-2 lead but wound up with a no-decision after a meltdown by the bullpen.

Now, he will try to build on his latest outing despite knowing he was on the trading block.

“It’s hard to just ignore (the rumors) but I know that a lot of times there’s rumors and nothing ends up happening,” he said. “You just have to push that in the back of your mind and try not to think about it too much.”

——

AP Sports Writer Rick Gano in Chicago and AP Freelance Writer Michael Wagaman in Oakland contributed to this story.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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