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Dan Haren flirts with perfection

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It doesn't get any better than that. At least, it almost didn't.

According to MLB.com's Gameday tracker, Dan Haren only needed nine pitches, the bare minimum, to strike out the side in the third inning of Tuesday's Cactus League start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"No, because I threw a ball to [Trevor] Cahill," Haren said.

It turns out he was right, but it was still an awfully impressive second start for Haren. He struck out seven batters in three innings and threw 29 strikes in 41 pitches. He brought his split-finger fastball into a start for the first time this spring, helping him pile up strikeouts.

It was Haren's first start against Arizona since it traded him to the Angels in 2010 for Joe Saunders and three prospects, including Arizona's top pitching prospect, Tyler Skaggs.

That trade was the third in Haren's eight-year career.

"I was walking in from the bullpen today and someone was wearing a Cardinals [Albert] Pujols jersey and the guy said, 'Hey, we miss you in St. Louis.' Then someone else said, 'Hey, we miss you in Arizona,' " Haren said. "I was like, 'Oh, no one misses me in Oakland?' I've played on quite a few teams."