Harden Hoping To Return This Season

Rich Harden is back with his teammates. Now it's a matter of whether the right-hander can rejoin them on the field this season.

Battling back from another prolonged stint on the disabled list, Rich Harden returned to the A's clubhouse Tuesday after spending the past several weeks rehabilitating his strained right shoulder in Phoenix.

Harden made a significant step Sunday by throwing 25 pitches from the mound. He'll continue rehabbing and throwing in Oakland. The A's are hopeful Harden can return to game action sometime during September.

Oakland recently got right-hander Esteban Loaiza back from the disabled list, and he's looked strong in two starts since then. A healthy return by Harden could give the A's a glance -- albeit a brief one -- at what the front end of their rotation was supposed to look like back in April.

The A's also want to gauge where Harden and Loaiza stand heading into the offseason as they prepare for 2008.

Oakland A's Notes
--RHP Andrew Brown allowed three runs in the eighth inning and took the loss in Tuesday's 5-4 defeat to Toronto. The A's have started using Brown in the later innings, but he's struggled somewhat after looking very sharp upon his promotion from the minors immediately after the All-Star break.

--OF Mark Kotsay is still rehabilitating and gaining strength in his lower back, but he has yet to resume baseball activity. Kotsay went on the disabled list with lower back spasms Aug. 17, and it's unclear if he'll return to the A's at all this season. He also missed the season's first two months after having surgery on his lower back.

--INF Marco Scutaro started his second consecutive game at shortstop, a sign that the dizziness he's recently experienced might be getting better. Scutaro has been staying away from the medication he was given for the dizziness after he experienced bad side effects from it. He told reporters he still hears a ringing in one ear, however, which began during a team flight to Detroit on Aug. 8 and might be tied in to the dizziness.

--RHP Chad Gaudin turned in a solid seven-inning stint against Toronto, giving up five hits and two runs. He did walk four. After a strong start to the season, Gaudin has been up and down in the second half, as Oakland's starting staff has gradually seen its ERA rise as a group.

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