“It felt awesome to be out there,” said Harben, who was on a pitch count of 65. “After a long year of rehab, it felt nice just to be out there on the mound again.”
Harben allowed three hits and four walks and threw two wild pitches but did not allow a run. He struck out three and left after five innings with a no-decision.
Harben said he worked primarily off his sinking two-seam fastball and slider in Monday’s start. He also features a changeup and curveball in his repertoire, but he said he didn't throw either pitch with regularity in the start.
“I threw a lot of sinkers tonight and had pretty good movement on my fastball,” Harben said of his performance against the Vero Beach Rays. “I had a pretty decent slider. A combination of those two pitches and I was able to get some groundballs.”
The Cubs acquired Harben from Minnesota for INF/OF Phil Nevin in 2006. That year, Harben was 4-9 with a 3.96 ERA in 29 appearances, including 22 starts, for Class AA New Britain of the Eastern League. He logged 120-plus innings.
Harben is hoping to make it back to Double-A some time in 2008.
“I wasn’t real sure where I would be starting” coming into minor league camp, Harben said. “Starting down here is fine with me. Coming off surgery and everything, I don’t have my best stuff yet. Once I get a little more consistency back and start getting my better stuff back, hopefully they’ll move me back up.”
IOWA 8, ALBURQUERQUE 4 (CLASS AAA)
At Des Moines, Iowa (2-3) plated seven runs in their first three innings and collected 10 hits. INF/OF Bobby Scales, whom the Cubs signed a minor league free agent last December, picked up his first start at third base and collected three hits, including a solo home run. Making his Triple-A debut, RHP Mark Holliman worked three innings and allowed two runs on four hits to go with five walks. He struck out four.
BIRMINGHAM 2, TENNESSEE 1 (CLASS AA)
At Birmingham, Ala., Tennessee (3-2) was held to three hits in the finale of a five-game set with the Barons. Third baseman Kyle Reynolds picked up two hits to lead the Smokies’ offense. RHP Tanner Watson, who was signed as a minor league free agent by Chicago in January, made his first start in the Cubs’ farm system and tossed six shutout innings, allowing just two hits in a no-decision. RHP Michael Cooper (0-1) suffered the loss, allowing the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
DAYTONA 4, VERO BEACH 3 – 10 INNINGS (CLASS HIGH A)
At Vero Beach, Fla., Tony Thomas continued his hot start in the Florida State League with another two-hit showing. The second baseman and Cubs third-round pick in the 2007 draft finished 2-for-4 with a walk and has hit safely in his first five games of the season, recording four multi-hit games in the process. OF Jonathan Wyatt, DH Jim Adduci and OF Yusuf Carter also added two hits apiece for Daytona (3-2).
RHP Dumas Garcia (2-0) got the win for Daytona in relief, tossing two scoreless innings without allowing a hit. LHP Casey Lambert, the Cubs’ sixth-round draft pick a year ago from Virginia, worked a perfect 10th inning for his first save of the season.
BELOIT 8, PEORIA 0 (CLASS A)
At Peoria, the Chiefs (2-3) committed seven errors – including four from shortstop Marwin Gonzalez – and were shutout in their home opener. OF’s Cliff Andersen and Dylan Johnston recorded the only hits for Peoria. LHP Zach Ashwood (0-1), a 16th-round Cubs draft pick from Kansas in 2007, started and suffered the loss. He allowed one unearned run on two hits in 3 1/3 innings, striking out one batter.