On a breezy evening at Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton, Oakland A’s left-hander Brett Anderson took a big step towards returning to the big league rotation.
“I’ve never really had too much success in rehab starts, but that’s kind of beside the point,” said Anderson. He finished his night throwing 3.1 innings and giving up five runs on five hits, including a pair of home runs.
“Nobody likes to give up runs, nobody likes to lose, but it’s not the priority at this point. The first priority is feeling good. My body feels good, my arm feels good, and we’ll see what happens from here.”
On a night when the Stockton Ports, the Single-A affiliate of the A’s, lost 8-1 to the San Jose Giants, Anderson struck out six and walked a pair.
Anderson appeared to move just fine out on the mound, and said he was unbothered by his foot.
“There was a couple of ground balls to first where I had to make a move over there, and my foot felt fine.”
Anderson last pitched for the A’s on April 29 as he went 5.1 innings in relief. It was a game in which he’d originally been scratched as the team downed the Los Angeles Angels in a 19 inning-marathon.
He was scheduled to throw about 65 pitches and ended up throwing 63, of which 36 were strikes. In the first inning, Anderson worked quickly and uncorked a low strike for his first pitch of the night. He then proceeded to strikeout the side as the young Giants looked clearly overmatched.
In the second, though, he got hit around a bit. Anderson got a groundout to second to start off the inning, but then gave up a double to left center. Top prospect Addison Russell then made a sensational leaping catch at shortstop to bail out Anderson, at least temporarily.
The next batter walked, and then Anderson received some bad luck on an infield single chopped to third base. A line drive single up the middle then gave the Giants an early 2-0 advantage.
Anderson worked through a quiet third as the lefty struck out the first two batters to give him five to that point. He grabbed his sixth strikeout to start off the fourth before running into trouble.
Jeff Arnold cracked a home run just beyond the wall in right, and then the 25-year-old walked his second batter of the game. Then Myles Schroder, who was hitting eighth for San Jose, connected on a home run to left to end Anderson’s night. Throughout his outing Anderson left quite a few pitches up in the zone.
“Command is still work in progress, but I got some strikeouts today and that’s a good sign. I got some strikeouts on my breaking ball, which is always a good sign.”
Does the starter think he needs another outing before returning to the rotation for the Athletics?
“No I feel good. I’ll throw a bullpen on Saturday. Obviously when you face a big league lineup the adrenaline kind of kicks in, and your focus level is intensified. That’s kind of what happened last year.”
“I didn’t have too many good starts last year on the way back and then I had fairly good success coming back in the big leagues.”
Anderson was unsure what kind of role he’ll return to in Oakland.
“I don’t know. I’ll go in tomorrow to the field in Oakland and I’ll see what they say and go from there.”
Anderson then added: “As of now I’m a starter until they tell me otherwise. I’ll go there and do my routine every five days and go from there. I’ll continue to prepare like I’m going to be a starter.”
Anderson would be on turn to pitch again on Tuesday, and the A’s will be at Comerica Park that day to take on the Detroit Tigers. Justin Verlander is slated to pitch for the Tigers, but the A’s have yet to announce a starter.
“Hopefully I can come back and contribute like I did last year, and we can make it to the playoffs again and hopefully further.”