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04/23/08 9:39 PM ET

Harden tosses 16 pitches in bullpen

Righty begins road back from muscle strain near right shoulder

OAKLAND -- As A's righty Rich Harden threw from a bullpen mound Wednesday for the first time since his second start of the season on April 2, Oakland manager Bob Geren, concurrently conducting his daily pregame media session in the dugout, snuck a few peeks over at his star-crossed ace.

"He looks good," Geren said of Harden, who is recovering from a muscle strain near his right shoulder.

Moments later, the loud, familiar pop that Harden's fastball creates when it collides with a catcher's leather reverberated off the dugout wall.

"Sounds good, too," Geren said with a smile.

Harden wasn't smiling while discussing his 16-pitch session with the media; he's clearly grown weary of the health-related questions that have dogged him over the past several seasons, and his answers Wednesday were either monosyllabic or clipped.

After telling reporters he didn't have much to say, Harden, who is on the disabled list for the sixth time since the start of the 2005 campaign, was asked how he felt.

"Good," he said.

Asked to gauge the intensity of his throws, he said, "Eighty percent."

Asked if he had a return date in mind, he said, "Just one day at a time."

At that point, Geren poked his head into the mini-scrum and said, "I've gotta jump in here, too -- get the scoop."

There wasn't any scoop, but Harden did allow that he was pleased with the brief workout.

"I'm happy with the way today went," he said.

The next step will be for Harden to pitch in a simulated game Saturday in Seattle, but Geren said the road map for Harden's return to the rotation is incomplete thereafter.

"We haven't gotten that far," Geren said. "We have to go one step at a time."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.