Anderson turns focus from arm health to pitch health

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Anderson turns focus from arm health to pitch health

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson pitched so well on Tuesday that his teammates gave him a commemorative baseball as a reward. OK, that may be an overstatement, the ball was given to him as a joke, honoring his first strikeout in a professional game since June 5. It's still a big achievement, and one he was proud to point out. "I finally struck somebody out," Anderson said. "They kind of made a joke, gave me a ball, it says congrats first K since June 5, 422 days."The ball says "woo hoo" and displays other sarcastic phrases. Anyone that follows Anderson on Twitter knows a gesture of that sort is right up his alley. On a more serious note, Anderson threw 73 pitches and felt like he made significant progress. The left-handed pitcher lasted four innings, allowing four hits and two runs. The results aren't as important as how he feels though -- and he feels good. "It's always better to worry about what my pitches are doing and how your stuff is, rather than is my elbow going to feel bad today," he said. "It's always a good thing."Anderson had Tommy John surgery on July 14, 2011. He is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Next, he will start Sunday in Sacramento, and that is all he knows for sure. After a year of doctor visits, rehabilitation, and poking and prodding from various trainers, he is happy to be back on a more typical routine. "You feel like a normal pitcher," Anderson said. "You're back on your five days and you're getting on a routine. I'm not really worried what my arm is doing I'm worried what my pitches are doing."The A's say they'd like to see Anderson work his way up to around 100 pitches in game action before they'd consider bringing him back. That could happen in his next two starts. He could soon be joining a rotation that is already leading the American League in ERA. "I keep joking around that I don't know what's going to happen because there are so many guys pitching well in front of me," Anderson said. "Especially with (Brandon) McCarthy coming back, it's sort of an embarrassment of riches."The A's haven't entertained the idea of a six-man rotation, but Anderson said he wouldn't be opposed to it. The team will have some good, but tough decisions to make soon, McCarthy could be ready to join the rotation as soon as next week, and Anderson is right behind him. NOTES- Brandon McCarthy will throw a bullpen on Thursday, and will pitch Saturday for the Triple-A River Cats. - Coco Crisp made significant progress Wednesday as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Expect him back soon. - Cliff Pennington had a good day, he will take batting practice on the field Thursday and likely begin a rehab assignment with Sacramento on Friday. - Dallas Braden played catch on Wednesday for the first time after suffering from a groin strain.

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

A's spring training Day 41: Maxwell's two-HR day can't stave off bad news

PHOENIX — Bruce Maxwell homered twice against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and his reward was a demotion to the minors.

Awkward timing, for sure. But the news itself wasn’t much of a shock to the A’s catcher, who knew he was the odd man out in a three-man roster battle. The A’s like the left-right platoon behind the plate. Stephen Vogt, who like Maxwell hits left-handed, wasn’t going anywhere. Josh Phegley is back healthy after knee surgery and has the advantage of being a right-handed hitter.

“I mean, I could have come out here and hit 1.000 and I probably still would have been in the same situation,” Maxwell said. “I can’t really do much about it. I try not to worry about it. At the end of the day everybody wants to play in the big leagues, but if the opportunity is not there you can’t stress about it.”

Manager Bob Melvin gave Maxwell the news in the dugout after he exited Oakland’s 11-1 victory, and Melvin certainly couldn’t give Maxwell a justifiable reason for the demotion except that the roster math doesn’t add up.

“Great day to have to do that,” Melvin said sarcastically. “But, he’ll be here at some point. We saw his progression last year, he did a great job for us. There’s nothing he did to suggest he needed to be sent down. It’s just a numbers game for him right now.”

The A’s batted around in a five-run third, knocking Brewers starter Matt Garza from the game after he recorded just seven outs. They tacked on four more in the fourth, with Maxwell going deep to left-center for a two-run homer off Jhan Marinez. In the sixth, he hit a solo shot off Corey Knebel to right-center and also added a run-scoring single to complete his four-RBI day.

Melvin has spoken often of the improving power shown by the 26-year-old Maxwell, who hit .283 with a homer and 14 RBI in 33 games with Oakland last season in his first major league call-up.

“If you look at the power numbers over the years, he’s getting better and better,” Melvin said. “He’s got the chance to be a 20-home run guy in the big leagues.”

NOTEWORTHY: Jharel Cotton held Milwaukee to just a run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He bounced back from a wobbly start against Seattle in which he walked five. On Sunday, his toughest challenge was staying loose as the A’s offense put up two time-consuming rallies. Twice, Cotton had to play catch while his teammates paraded around the bases.

But it sure didn’t affect him, as he struck out seven and walked one in his second-to-last spring training start.

“This one, I was more on the attack, using my fastball more so I can set up my changeup and off-speed pitches,” Cotton said. “I know everybody raves about the changeup, but I need my fastball to be there so I can throw that pitch off the fastball.”

He had an entertaining ongoing battle with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun. He struck out Braun on a cutter in the first, gave up a homer to left in the fourth, then battled back from a 3-0 count to get Braun swinging through a fastball in the sixth.

“I got him twice, he got me once,” Cotton said. “I think I won that battle today.”

HEALTH UPDATE: Daniel Mengden, who has missed all of spring with a broken right foot, is scheduled to get his walking boot removed Monday. Mengden said he’ll stay in Arizona for anywhere from two to four weeks, taking part in extended spring training. The good news for the right-hander: He’s been able to play catch while wearing the boot, so that’s a bit of a head-start for him once he gets full mobility with his foot. There’s no timetable yet for his return.

ODDS AND ENDS: The A’s knocked out 16 hits and recorded double-digit runs for the fifth time this spring. They improved to 16-12. … Alejandro De Aza, fighting for an outfield roster spot, went 2-for-3 with an RBI to raise his average to .300. … With few regulars making the trip to Maryvale Baseball Park, second baseman Max Schrock came over from minor league camp and once again made an impact, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. … John Axford threw a scoreless inning of relief. Frankie Montas handled the final two innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk. The hard-throwing prospect is a candidate for the bullpen as a multi-inning guy.

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

A's option catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A; 37 players remain in camp

The A's optioned catcher Bruce Maxwell to Triple-A Nashville Sunday, the club announced

Maxwell, 26, went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the A's 11-1 win over the Brewers Sunday. Both home runs were his lone of the spring. 

In 2016, Maxwell played in 26 games with the A's after his promotion from Triple-A. He hit .283 with one homer. 

The 2012 second-round draft pick is a career .266/.346/.370 hitter in the minors with 25 home runs. Maxwell is the A's No. 10 prospect by Baseball America. 

The A’s now have 37 players in big league camp.