Baseball

Harden a Cub for rest of season

Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry chose Monday not to trade pitcher Rich Harden to Minnesota for the stretch drive with his improving team sitting 5½ games out of the National League wild-card race.

GM Hendry decides not to make trade with contending Twins

Rich Harden will attempt to help the Chicago Cubs win a division title in September and not the Minnesota Twins.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who said there was no serious trade discussions between the teams, elected to keep the right-handed pitcher for the stretch drive with his team showing slight improvement of late and sitting 5½ games out of the National League wild-card race entering play Monday.

It marked the final day a player could join a new team and be eligible for the post-season.

Minnesota, which has lost starter Kevin Slowey to injury for the rest of the season, claimed Harden — a Victoria native — on Thursday.

The Twins entered play Monday evening four games back of the Detroit Tigers, who fell 11-7 to Tampa Bay in the afternoon.

Harden took the mound for Chicago against the Houston Astros on Monday night with a 8-7 record and 3.99 earned-run average in 22 starts this season.

He took the loss, allowing five runs on five hits in five innings of a 5-3 setback. Harden struck out nine but walked six.

"It was one of those nights where I felt really good, maybe too good. I just had trouble getting a feel and getting into a rhythm and obviously walks killed me, I had a lot of those," Harden said. "It was either strikeout, a hit or a walk, not what the team needed tonight."

Harden said the trade reports were on his mind throughout the week.

"It was. You just can't ignore it," Harden said. "The whole thing was ridiculous. It had nothing to do with my performance today. Can't make excuses."

The Cubs have until mid-November to decide if they want to keep the oft-injured hurler. Harden could become a free agent 15 days after the end of the World Series.

Should Harden test the open market, Chicago must decide if it will offer the 27-year-old salary arbitration, which would carry a significant raise from his 2009 salary of $7 million US.

If it does, Harden could re-sign for one year. If the Cubs let him walk, they lose the two compensation picks they would receive when he signs elsewhere.

With files from The Associated Press