Shoulder keeps Harden from Classic

Shoulder keeps Harden from Classic

As expected, Rich Harden's balky shoulder will keep him off Team Canada's final roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Harden, the Chicago Cubs right-hander whose inclusion on his nation's preliminary roster Monday may have been purely ceremonial, told his hometown newspaper in British Columbia, the Victoria Times Colonist, that he won't be able to play.

"If I was 100 percent, and it was a different year and different scenario, I would have jumped at the opportunity to play," Harden told the newspaper.

"It's unfortunate, but it's not the decision I can make right now," he said. "In my heart I was hoping it would work out, but in my head I had a feeling it wouldn't. I kind of knew the decision would be made for me by circumstance. It's very disappointing not to play for Canada, but my No. 1 priority is the Cubs. I've just started to throw, and it [March] is too soon for me."

The Classic -- an event featuring 16 teams in four brackets -- will be played March 5-23, with the first round taking place in four countries, and the tournament concluding with the semifinals and finals taking place in Dodger Stadium.

Teams must set final rosters of 28 players -- including a mandatory 13 pitchers -- by Feb. 24.

Harden also missed the inaugural Classic in 2006 because of injury. He certainly could have helped Team Canada, which will play first-round games in Toronto against a pool of teams that includes the U.S., Venezuela and Italy.

In a 2008 season split between the A's and Cubs, Harden was 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts. He was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts after he was acquired by Chicago from Oakland at midseason.

After the season, the Cubs exercised Harden's $7 million option for 2009.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.