MESA, Ariz. _ Even though a lot of Cubs players have been down here working out for some time, this is the first "official" day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. The locker rooms here at Fitch Park were packed with both players and media members.
The most sought-after guy was Rich Harden, he of the tear-non-tear-strained-issues-oriented right shoulder.
Harden has been loath to say exactly what's been up with the shoulder, but he did say he's felt better than ever after a full winter of workouts down here.
"I would say that," he said. "It's probably the strongest my shoulder's felt. I'm excited for the start of the season here."
After that, I asked him about the "terminology" for what he's got.
"Everybody's got their opinions," he said. "It's funny. People are telling me that they're reading this and that. Whatever. There's nothing, nothing that bad."
Even a strained shoulder means that there are micro-tears, so if you want to use the word "tear," nobody around here is denying that, even if they aren't confirming it, either.
That said, it doesn't mean Harden hasn't strengthened the shoulder sufficiently and that he can't dial it up and pitch well this year. Kerry Wood did a pretty good job of it last year.
More to come later today and in the paper and on the Daily Herald Web site. If Harden gets up on one of the mounds today, I'll try to gauge the POP in his fastball.
Other than that, had a chance to meet Jeff Stevens, one of the pitchers traded from the Indians for Mark DeRosa. Stevens, 25, is pretty outgoing and friendly. He seems to be dealing well with having been traded for THE MOST POPULAR PLAYER IN CUBS HISTORY.
The other topic du jour was Chad Gaudin's goatee, which looks like it could house a nestful of robins. Gaudin said he had a full beard going over the winter.