The Minnesota Twins have signed injury hampered Canadian right-hander Rich Harden to a minor-league contract with an invitation to compete for a spot on the staff in spring training.
The 31-year-old Harden sat out the 2012 season after surgery on Jan. 31 to repair the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, his latest setback in a long line of arm problems. The Victoria native has the third-best strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio in the majors since his debut with Oakland in 2003, behind only Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw.
But Harden, after going 11-7 with a 3.99 earned-run average in 31 starts over 189 2/3 innings in his first full year in the majors in 2004, hasn't surpassed the 150-inning mark since. Between the A's and the Chicago Cubs in 2008, Harden finished 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 25 combined starts, posting 181 strikeouts in 148 innings.
But he had a 5.58 ERA in 2010 with the Texas Rangers, accumulating only 92 innings and had a 5.12 ERA in 15 starts in his return to the A's in 2011. Harden has been hit by a number of injuries, but the shoulder has given him the most trouble.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Harden was a 17th-round draft pick in 2000 out of Central Arizona College. He spent seven years with the A's. His career record is 59-38, with a 3.76 ERA and 949 strikeouts over 928 1/3 innings.
The Twins have acquired Vance Worley, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey to join Scott Diamond in their rotation, which ranked last in the American League in ERA last season, but there's one open spot. If Harden can prove he's healthy and still effective, he'll have a chance to be the fifth starter.
Returners Nick Blackburn, Samuel Deduno, Cole De Vries, Liam Hendriks and Esmerling Vasquez will also be in the mix this spring. The Twins will have 34 pitchers in camp.
The Twins also announced that Diamond, who hails from Guelph, Ont., had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday to remove a bone chip from his elbow. The team said he'll be ready for spring training.
Pierzynski set to sign with Rangers
A person familiar with the situation says catcher A.J. Pierzynski has passed a physical, clearing the way for a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers.
That person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because the Rangers had not added Pierzynski to their 40-man roster. With the Major League Baseball office closed for Christmas, the deal won't become official until at least next week.
Pierzynski underwent a physical Friday.
The deal comes after the Rangers lost catcher Mike Napoli in free agency.
Pierzynski, who turns 36 later this month, hit .278 with a career-high 27 homers and 77 RBIs, matching a career best, in 135 games for the Chicago White Sox last season.
Cubs agree to deal with Schierholtz
The Chicago Cubs say they have agreed to a one-year contract with outfielder Nate Schierholtz.
The team announced the agreement Friday. The deal calls for Schierholtz to earn $2.25 million plus an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses.
Schierholtz was traded from San Francisco to Philadelphia last season in the deal that sent Hunter Pence to the Giants at the July 31 non-waiver deadline. He batted .257 with six homers in 114 games.
The Phillies declined to tender Schierholtz a 2013 contract offer, making him a free agent.
Brewers sign pitcher Gorzelanny
The Milwaukee Brewers signed left-handed reliever Tom Gorzelanny to a two-year contract Friday.
The 30-year-old Gorzelanny went 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA and one save in 45 games with Washington last season, a stint that included one start. He posted a 1.33 ERA in 27 innings pitched out of the bullpen following the All-Star break.
Gorzelanny worked at least two innings in 19 of his 44 relief appearances last season, his first as a full-time reliever.
Overall, Gorzelanny is 44-45 with a 4.41 ERA and two saves in 193 games (111 starts) during eight seasons with Pittsburgh, the Cubs and Washington.
Terms were not released by the team.
Mariners sign pitcher to minor league deal
The Seattle Mariners have signed pitcher Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league contract, hoping the right-hander can make a comeback from Tommy John surgery.
The Mariners announced the deal Friday. They also invited the 30-year-old who was raised in the state of Washington to spring training.
Bonderman has not pitched in the majors since 2010, when he went 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA for Detroit. He pitched eight seasons for the Tigers and helped them reach the World Series in 2006, when he was 14-8 and led the AL with 34 starts.
Bonderman had surgery on his right elbow last April. A blood clot in his right shoulder slowed his career in 2008 after he had a winning record in three straight years.