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Thursday, November 14, 2013
A slimmer Matt Harrison set to start tossing

By Richard Durrett

Matt Harrison can't wait for the 2014 season. He wants to erase the memories of 2013, which consisted of as many surgeries as starts. Harrison pitched twice last season before his back gave him problems. He had surgery on the back and had an operation to relieve Thoracic Outlet Syndrome on his nonthrowing shoulder.

"I don't want to go through something like that again," Harrison said Wednesday from his home in North Carolina. "I’m eager to get back out here and pitch even more. There was a bad taste left in my mouth after doing all that rehab and being shut down again after putting all the work in. I’ll be glad to get back out there."

Harrison, 28, said he's been working out for about a month now and feels good. The back hasn't given him any problems, and he's building strength in his arm. Harrison is planning on playing catch Thursday as he ramps up a little earlier than normal after such a layoff.

"It's about getting past the initial soreness and getting the strength and flexibility back from taking all that time off," Harrison said. "But the back feels great. I'm doing good."

Harrison said he's down to 240 pounds, a weight that he'd like to stay at for spring training. Thanks mainly to medication, Harrison said he ballooned up to 270 pounds at one point. He said his playing weight is normally around 250, but doesn't want to pitch at that weight anymore.

"It would help with everything to take a little stress off the back and make it easier to run," Harrison said.

Harrison was pleased to see Martin Perez get a long-term contract last week to lock up most of the club's rotation for the future. That includes Harrison, who signed a five-year, $55 million deal before last season after winning 18 games in 2012.

"You know, barring injuries, who's going to be in front of you or behind you for the next four years," Harrison said. "Knowing you’re going to be with the same guys and that you can get to know each other and feed off each other and pick things up from each other will be a big help for all of us."