Just wanted to give you a quick update on the A’s pitchers on the mend …
Brett Anderson is indeed going to Single-A Stockton on Saturday for his first rehab start. Manager Bob Melvin said Anderson will throw about 45 pitches, same as he threw in his last simulated game Monday. He didn’t share what the plan would be beyond that. But figure that Anderson — coming back from reconstructive elbow surgery he had almost one year ago exactly — will have to make 3-4 starts minimum in the minors before there’s a chance of him returning to the big club.
Brandon McCarthy threw off the mound for the first time Wednesday since he was shut down with recurring shoulder soreness. He threw 25 pitches and used all of his repertoire. If he comes out of it well, he’ll throw another bullpen session Saturday. Dallas Braden also continues to throw off the mound, and the A’s are hopeful of having him back before the season ends.
It all makes for an interesting scenario as to how the A’s handle their rotation over the season’s final two months. McCarthy, Anderson and Braden (in that order?) will eventually be available for starting duty if they continue to recover. But who will get booted from the rotation? Melvin acknowledged that the A’s have target inning limits in mind for some young starters (think Jarrod Parker in particular, Tommy Milone also). He said the A’s haven’t decided when the exact time will be to start tapering down innings.
“We have some guys coming back,” Melvin said. “How it all plays out as far as limiting somebody’s innings or giving someone a break, I think that’s all up for debate. There’s no doubt we’re gonna have some difficult decisions to make, regardless of when Anderson and McCarthy come back. I think once we get down that road, we deal with it. But some of the younger guys we do have some targets for. It just depends on how we get there.”
It’s a luxury many teams probably wish they had — a lot of pitching and not enough slots for everybody. Melvin said the idea of a six-man rotation hasn’t been discussed yet. And keep in mind that McCarthy and even Bartolo Colon have to be considered health risks down the stretch — McCarthy because of his shoulder history and Colon simply because he’s 39. Also, you can’t assume that Anderson and/or Braden can just be plugged in at some point and be considered automatic to remain healthy. Surely the A’s are considering the overall health history of their pitching staff as they weigh whether to deal a pitcher such as Colon as the trade deadline draws closer.
–If you’re tuned in to the game, you already know this, but Coco Crisp is back in the A’s lineup playing center and hitting leadoff. Yoenis Cespedes is back in left field for the first time since his recent thumb injury, and Seth Smith is DH. Melvin said the A’s still want Cespedes to be a regular outfielder despite the defensive learning curve he faces in left field, and the fact that Smith’s hitting stats are better when he plays the outfield as opposed to DH. “We’ll certainly take that into consideration,” Melvin said. “But (Cespedes) is quite the athlete, and you don’t want to limit him to DH.”
That’s all for now …