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Harden sidelined by strained stomach muscle

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland right-hander Rich Harden went on
the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of a strained stomach
muscle.

The Athletics recalled right-hander Seth Etherton from Triple-A
Sacramento, and reliever Keiichi Yabu will take Harden's turn in
the rotation Wednesday against Boston. The A's won't need a fifth
starter again until May 28.

Harden, the No. 2 starter, is 2-3 with 42 strikeouts and a 2.80
ERA in seven starts this season. He went on the DL for the first
time in his major league career with the same injury that has
plagued Tim Hudson, the longtime A's starter who was traded to
Atlanta in the offseason.

Harden was injured Friday while pitching in Oakland's 9-4 loss
to the New York Yankees, and the DL assignment is retroactive. He
left in the fourth inning after throwing two balls to Jorge Posada.

He will have an MRI exam on Monday, but the A's made the move to
get immediate help for their beleaguered staff, which was further
depleted in a 15-6 loss to the Yankees on Saturday. Starter Joe
Blanton couldn't pitch out of the third inning, and Oakland
exhausted its bullpen in its first two games against the Yankees.

Etherton was beaten out for the fifth spot in the A's rotation
by Kirk Saarloos during spring training. He was 1-2 with a 2.76 ERA
in Sacramento, making five starts.

"We needed another pitcher," manager Ken Macha said. "Even
after the MRI, [Harden] probably has to have a number of days'
rest."

Yabu, the A's 36-year-old rookie reliever, won 84 games as a
starter during his 11-year career in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers.
He is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.