Harden, DL — Sound familiar?

The official release is not yet on the A’s Web site, but Rich Harden has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained back muscle behind his shoulder blade.

What can you say? That’s an impressive 4-for-4 for Harden. Four straight seasons on the disabled list; three straight years he hasn’t made it out of April.

At least the A’s know what they’re getting.


Harden: Deja vu all over again

Woke up this morning to the talking heads on KNBR announcing that Rich Harden’s next start has been pushed back again. Perused the Internet, and sure enough “it’s not too likely” he’s starting on Saturday.

Good grief! What is it with this guy?! I’m all for being cautious, and I understand it’s only April. But at some point, Harden has to pitch through some of his pain and get on the mound. I’m guessing Joe Blanton doesn’t feel 100 percent every single time he’s on the hill.

A’s fans, how tired are you of this repeated pattern?


Dan Johnson designated for assignment

Looks like we’re about to find out just how much worth Dan Johnson’s career has at this point. Reports are circulating that he’s been designated for assignment to clear room on the 25- and 40-man rosters for Greg Smith, tonight’s starting pitcher.

The A’s, according to industry people with whom I’ve spoken, couldn’t give away Johnson during spring training. I think that’s probably a harsh assessment; the A’s never want to give away anybody. But Johnson clearly doesn’t command much, and it is possible he’ll make his way through waivers and wind up back in the minors.

Even if doesn’t, my guess is that it’s not a big loss. Johnson strikes me as a prototypical 4A player. He’ll always be a good minor-league player, but never a great major leaguer.

Your thoughts?


Harden’s injury, and more …

OK readers, here’s your chance. Weekly excerpts of your comments will appear in the Sunday Times. The more you tell me what you think, the more the readers will get a chance to know what you think.

With that, let’s get to some thoughts on the A’s.

— Had an interesting discussion Friday with Marty Lurie, who does such a fine job on the A’s pregame shows and with his “Inside Baseball, Saturday Night” program. He says the A’s should do all they can to keep onto Rich Harden, no matter what. Arms like that, he said, are so rare that you have to hold onto them.

I’m not sure I agree.

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Another bad Street

A’s closer Huston Street has just given up another mamoth blast to a left-hander. This time, it was Cleveland’s Travis Hafner, and I’m not sure if the ball has landed yet. That’s three dingers in three innings off him this season, all by left-handers. David Ortiz and Brandon Moss got him earlier.

Who else is wondering how this will play out?


Lit Street

Anybody out there alarmed by the first impression Huston Street has left? As the A’s brace to begin their first non-Boston series of the season tonight against the Boston Red Sox, Street’s struggles are just as much a concern, if not more, than the quiet offense.

Street has allowed home runs in two of his three appearances this season and has allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings (he’s blown his only save chance). Wish I could say it’s a surprise that both of the long balls have come against lefties (David Ortiz and Brandon Moss), but it’s not. Lefties hit Street regularly down the stretch last season, and four of the five homers he allowed in his 50 innings came against left-handed swingers.

The other thing that’s concerning is Street’s appearance against left-handers. He just doesn’t appear confident against them. It’s a subtle thing, but some scouts have picked up on it, and I would imagine fans are starting to notice it, too.

This is an issue that bears watching.


Get your Program!

OK, one final clarification on the programs being sold at the Coliseum. There is a program with Travis Buck on the cover (I was erroneously told it was a spring-training program). There is also an A’s yearbook with the collage of great moments from 40 years on the cover.

Sorry for the confusion.


The Big Oh (Fer)

A’s fans will want to pull out their hair when I write this (the jinx factor, after all), but have to pull it out now, because it’s a sentence that may not be written again in 2008.

Boston’s David Ortiz is 0-for-10 and has now left seven men in scoring position. He grounded out against Joe Blanton with the bases loaded in the fifth, preserving a 1-1 tie.  Ortiz has also failed twice with the bases loaded in the three games.

Digest that.


Opposite field Jack

Talk to many of the people who follow the A’s everyday, and a lot of them will express concern about what to expect from Jack Cust. His 2007 season proved a great story, they’ll all agree, but at the same time, he did spend a decade in the minors for a reason.

How Cust goes will be one of the A’s most important storylines this season, so his laser-shot home run to left field off Daisuke Matsuzaka a few minutes ago will set hearts aflurry for A’s fans.


The ceremonial first pitch

The A’s generally don’t do a great job honoring their history, but their pregame ceremonies tonight were as good as it gets for them. The team honored Hall of Fame electee Dick Williams by unveiling a Hall of Fame logo for him on the left-field fence. Never mind that Ted Williams might have a tough time seeing it from the seats behind home plate.

For the ceremonial first pitch, the A’s trotted out Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Terry Steinbach and Dave Henderson. That’s a combined 11 All-Star appearances and eight World Series rings. Not bad.

By the way, the Travis Buck-on-the-cover reference in the previous blog was actually in reference to the program the team was selling in the final days of spring training. Just got a glimpse of the Opening Day program for the regular season, and it’s cool. A collage of great moments from the team’s 40 years.

Should provide some warmth during what may be a long summer.