Harden passes test with pain-free session

Harden passes test with pain-free session

PHOENIX -- The exact date of Rich Harden's return to the mound is currently unknown, but the A's righty took one step closer Friday by throwing pain-free from a distance of 80 feet.

"It went really well," manager Bob Geren said. "It was a 'test it out and see how it feels' kind of day."

Harden has been sidelined since Feb. 15, when he experienced stiffness in the lat area under his pitching arm during a 40-pitch bullpen session. According to Geren, the hurler is scheduled to throw "harder and farther" on Saturday, and will take Sunday off.

From there, Harden will most likely remain on a two-on, one-off schedule as the team determines when he's best suited to pitch off the bump again. At this point, there is no way to determine when he'll make his Cactus League debut, though his chances in the fifth-starter race appear to be thinning as fellow candidates Josh Outman, Brandon McCarthy, Tyson Ross and Bobby Cramer continue to progress.