Team wants to rest him ahead of pennant drive

Originally Published: August 14, 2003 news services

Oakland A's: Oakland manager Ken Macha hinted Thursday that rookie Rich Harden might get some extra rest next week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Harden, who is pitching Friday night, is scheduled to start Thursday at Boston if the rotation holds, but Oakland has Monday off and Macha might take the chance to push Harden back. If he does get his start postponed a day or two, the Canadian-born Harden would pitch in his homeland for the first time, against Toronto.

Harden, 21, has already thrown 133 2/3 innings this season, and last year he finished with 153 (he then threw about 20 innings in instructional league), so the A's don't want to overwork him, according to the report.

In addition, moving Harden would allow the A's to split up their three straight left-handers -- Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Ted Lilly -- and it ensures another showdown between Tim Hudson and Pedro Martinez on Thursday in Boston, according to the Chronicle.

Kansas City Royals: Royals first baseman Mike Sweeney is back, sort of.

Sweeney, suffering from a nerve inflamation in his neck, returned to the Royals lineup last week, but only as a designated hitter. Sweeney is still unable to throw and field, according to the Kansas City Star.

"That was why we were able to get him back so quickly," general manager Allard Baird said to the paper. "The doctors said, 'Listen, it's going to take longer to have him be able to bat and run and throw and catch ... but if you want him just to bat and run, we can get him back in this time frame. If you want him to bat and play in the field, you'd better look farther down the road.' "

St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Morris completed a morning bullpen session Thursday and may still be named Sunday's starter against the Philadelphia Phillies, but on Thursday, manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan still had not decided, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported Friday.

"We just want to make sure that the decision we make is right," Duncan said to the paper. "We're going to talk about it on the plane today and figure it out. You want to cover everything before going ahead."

Out since July 22 with a fractured right hand, Morris expected to start on Sunday. It wasn't until after throwing Thursday that he learned the decision hadn't been made.

"I threw a morning bullpen. I don't know what else you want me to say," Morris said to the paper about an hour before the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. "They told me earlier this week I was starting Sunday. I don't know what's changed."

La Russa said he had no problem with Morris' four-inning simulated game Tuesday and that there were no complications during Thursday's bullpen session. However, La Russa described Morris' return four weeks after suffering the injury as "quite a push."

Morris "wants to pitch, but there's more to it than that," La Russa said to the paper. "I'm not going to send him out there before he's ready." La Russa indicated Morris may throw another simulation Sunday.

Cleveland Indians: The Indians placed outfielder Milton Bradley on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to August 10, with a lumbar contusion.

The team recalled outfielder Alex Escobar from Triple-A Buffalo to fill his roster spot.

Chicago Cubs: The Cubs sent infielder Bobby Hill to the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday to complete a July 22 deal in which the Cubs obtained outfielder Kenny Lofton and infielder Aramis Ramirez in exchange for infielder Jose Hernandez and minor league pitcher Matt Bruback in addition to Hill, the Cubs reported Friday.

Hill, 25, played briefly for the Cubs over the last two seasons. He was Chicago's second-round selection in the 2002 draft.

Hill has spent most of the 2003 campaign at Triple-A Iowa, where he has hit .288 in 92 games with 23 doubles, 6 homers and 40 RBI.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.