Dallas Braden, Brett Anderson making progress as A’s begin second half

When I arrived at Kauffman Stadium this afternoon, the sun was out and it looked like a typically hot, muggy Midwestern summer day … Since then, dark clouds have moved in and we’ve actually gotten a bit of rain as first pitch approaches. There are storm warnings in the area, but let’s hope the truly bad weather avoids us. Nobody needs to start the second half with a rain delay …

–Dallas Braden popped into the A’s clubhouse before batting practice, having tested his left elbow in a rehab game last night for Single-A Stockton. He headed straight for the trainer’s room and didn’t have time to chat, but we’re supposed to get him after the game. Manager Bob Geren said Braden came out of his four-inning start fine, but the A’s are waiting until after he throws a side session tomorrow to declare him ready to come off the DL and start Tuesday against the Red Sox.

All went well with Brett Anderson’s rehab start last night in the Arizona Rookie League. He went four innings and gave up one run on seven hits. He threw 63 pitches, mixing in his slider, curve ball and changeup. Seems like a good sign that his elbow is coming along well enough to allow him to throw all his pitches. Figure he’ll need at least two more starts before being activated.

The progress of those two pitchers is obviously crucial as the A’s try to hang in the AL West picture. On that topic, check out the schedule the A’s have coming out of the break: After this series in Kansas City, they host the Red Sox and White Sox for six games, then hit the road to play six against the Rangers and White Sox. I’d say this stretch will hold the key to the A’s season.

–Ryan Sweeney is not in the lineup after getting plasma injections in both knees and a cortisone injection in his right knee over the All-Star break. Geren listed Sweeney as day-to-day, and considering Geren plans to start a righty-dominated lineup Saturday against Royals lefty Bruce Chen, Sweeney won’t be playing tomorrow either. He didn’t have much to say on how bad his knees have felt lately, but I guarantee you this guy’s been playing through considerable pain all season. He hopes the shots alleviate some of that, but judging from conversations we’ve had in the past, it sounds like Sweeney is going to be dealing with knee issues his entire career. It’s just not severe enough to keep him out for a prolonged period.

The lineups:
A’s — Crisp CF, Barton 1B, Suzuki C, Cust DH, Kouzmanoff 3B, Ellis 2B, Gross RF, Davis LF, Pennington SS; Gonzalez LHP.

Royals — Podsednik LF, Kendall C, DeJesus RF, Butler 1B, Guillen DH, Callaspo 3B, Aviles 2B, Bloomquist CF, Betancourt SS; Greinke RHP.

Joe Stiglich