Has Anderson become a permanent bullpen fixture?

Anderson glad to contribute in a game that mattered

Has Anderson become a permanent bullpen fixture?
September 2, 2013, 8:15 pm
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Brett Anderson came in Monday's game to protect a 4-2 lead and recorded four outs before giving way to Ryan Cook. (AP IMAGES)

OAKLAND – A’s manager Bob Melvin sounded more open than ever Monday to the possibility of Brett Anderson remaining in his bullpen through the rest of this season.

Anderson looked sharp in 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a 4-2 victory over the Texas Rangers. He allowed one hit and one walk but also struck out two, showing the kind of stuff that could serve well in a late-inning role.

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Since Anderson returned from a four-month layoff due to a foot injury, the A’s have maintained the lefty would pitch in relief while building up his pitch count in case he’s needed as a starter. Melvin repeated the idea of stretching Anderson out Monday but added:

“We’re doing OK in the rotation right now. It gives us another piece to a bullpen (in which) certain guys are a little worn out this time of year.”

Anderson seems open to the idea of staying in the bullpen.

“Whatever the need is,” Anderson said. “My body feels good, my arm feels good. We just gotta see how it plays out. I’m just happy to be pitching again, especially in games that matter.”

His first relief outing – three innings of mop-up duty in Wednesday’s 14-4 win at Detroit – was more about shaking the rust off.

He entered in the seventh inning Monday looking to protect a 4-2 lead and recorded four outs before giving way to Ryan Cook with a runner on in the eighth. It was the kind of high-intensity outing that gave Anderson a true taste of relief work.

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“I got thrown into the fire,” he said. “I gave up a couple base runners but felt like I did a fairly decent job. Going forward, I feel like that could be an option -- be a long guy or kind of fill any role at this point, I guess.”

It’s easy to let the imagination wander: Could Anderson at some point pitch in a save situation if needed? Grant Balfour endured another turbulent ninth inning Monday, putting the tying runs at second and third with one out before nailing down the win.

Balfour on the whole has been terrific this season, converting 36 of 38 save opportunities. Melvin backed his closer strongly after Monday’s game while admitting that Balfour “doesn’t have his best stuff” right now.

“But he’s our guy at the end of the game,” Melvin said. “He’s only blown two saves this year. Until that changes, he’s our closer, and we feel good when he takes the mound.”