Tigers know how to test Anderson's health

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Tigers know how to test Anderson's health

OAKLAND -- Just 20 days after straining his right oblique the Oakland Athletics insist that Brett Anderson is completely healthy. Why would they send him out to the mound if he wasn't? The Detroit Tigers might be a bit more skeptical and they will have a clever way to see just how healthy Anderson is. On Sept. 19, the day Anderson injured his right oblique, Detroit started the third inning by laying back-to-back bunt singles down the first-base line. Anderson, who falls off the mound to the third base side, had trouble getting back into position to field the bunts and ended up leaving the game four batters later. The A's insist that if the Tigers try that approach again they will be ready. "We're prepared for that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Whether it's him or someone else we're prepared." The A's are facing elimination with Anderson on the mound and when he's healthy they have to like their odds. There are some interesting variables in play with the 24-year-old lefty on the mound. It will be his first game action since suffering a Grade 2 oblique strain. It is also Anderson's first ever postseason experience. He may have looked healthy in his bullpen sessions, but it is impossible to simulate the adrenaline rush he will get when taking the mound in front of a sellout crowd. One minor tweak of the oblique and the A's season could be in jeopardy. "He was cleared on all fronts," Melvin said. "We wouldn't throw him out there if we weren't comfortable with his health. That means fielding his position, doing whatever he has to do." "My bullpens have been strong," Anderson said on Monday. "I took some time off with my oblique, so my arm feels good." Usually it's Anderson's left arm that has people worried. He missed 14 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011. The fact that he was forced to miss time with the oblique injury just six starts after his return to the mound might have been a blessing in disguise, because it forced him to rest his surgically repaired left elbow. Anderson is 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six starts since returning. He went 4-0 in his first four starts with the A's after Tommy John. The A's have been able to successfully gauge his readiness based on bullpen sessions this season. "We've looked at this thing pretty hard and we feel like we are in a good position with him and he feels good," Melvin said. "The training staff feels good about it. It's like a normal start." Except it's in the playoffs. "I'm sure there will be adrenaline rushing, and it will be fun to pitch here," Anderson said. "A postseason game in Oakland, there hasn't been one in a while so I am excited."

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

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Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With one week to go until the A’s break camp and head north, there are still some roster issues to be cleared up.

The big-picture question regarding this team, obviously, is where it might be building a future ballpark.

With all this in mind, we try to provide some clarity on questions submitted via Twitter:

From @Cjkittrell: If the Raiders move to Vegas, does the Coliseum site jump to the top of the list of possible ballpark sites by default?

That’s not necessarily the case. You have to remember what the A’s crave more than anything in a ballpark location: A thriving surrounding area — with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. — that will make the ballpark an attraction beyond the baseball game itself. Team president Dave Kaval has talked of wanting a “ballpark village” around a new venue. A downside of the Coliseum is that there is nothing around the area right now that would attract fans besides the baseball. Other sites, including Howard Terminal, appear to have more potential as far as surrounding attractions.

This doesn’t count out the Coliseum as an option. As Kaval has said, it’s the only site of four being considered that the A’s know is truly viable. There’s comfort in that. And the BART station, freeway access and available parking are big plusses. But something else I’ll mention in regard to the Raiders: Even if they announce a move to Las Vegas, they have lease agreements that would keep them playing football at the Coliseum at least through the 2018 season while their Vegas stadium is under construction. With the Raiders likely to be on the property for that period, it could complicate the A’s own hypothetical construction plans for the Coliseum site.

From @44BWells: With the emergence of Franklin Barrreto and the contract of Jed Lowrie, what's Joey Wendle's present and future?

They appear murky, don’t they? First and foremost, Wendle has to recover from a sore right shoulder that’s kept him out of exhibitions for a while. But the acquisition of utility man Adam Rosales meant Wendle probably wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training anyway. He’s got a fan in manager Bob Melvin, who was impressed with Wendle defensively last September. It was Wendle’s glove that was the question mark when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians. Barreto has the star-caliber upside and the hype. Once the A’s deem him ready, Lowrie becomes a trade possibility. But Wendle’s advantage is that, to a degree, he’s already proven himself in the majors. He’s a known quantity at this level. If a second baseman is needed early in the season, Wendle could get a call-up before Barreto if Barreto gets off to a slow start.

As for Wendle’s future beyond 2017, it would serve him well to be able to handle as many positions as possible. He realizes this. That’s why he volunteered to play winter ball in Mexico this past offseason, where he played lots of shortstop. His role moving forward could be as more of a utility guy, because I see Barreto growing roots at second base.

@ONChristy: Do the A's have the pieces, both in the majors and minors, to make a run in 2018-2020?

Well, it’s definitely tough to look down the road and forecast a three-year block. Here’s a short answer for you: They better! All of the trades of the past couple seasons have been made with an eye toward stockpiling young talent — especially on the pitching side. Contending this year will be a tall order. But by the end of this season, I’d expect Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman to have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues. There’s a strong chance you’ll also see young pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Daniel Gossett up. There’s a large core of young players who are on the cusp of being major league ready.

Add to that some core veterans such as Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman Marcus Semien and (if he’s not traded) Sonny Gray— who will all be under team control through 2019 at least — and the A’s have a solid foundation for contending in that timeframe you mention. But let’s face it, there’s a lot that can and usually does happen over any three-year span that completely changes what we think we know going in.

A's spring training Day 36: Montas is bullpen possibility for Melvin

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A's spring training Day 36: Montas is bullpen possibility for Melvin

PEORIA, Ariz. — The bullpen puzzle for the A’s seemed a rather simple one coming into spring training.

They appeared to have one spot open, with that job likely going to a second left-hander to join Sean Doolittle. Complicating things is that Daniel Coulombe and Ross Detwiler, the two lefty relief candidates still in camp, have posted identical 9.39 ERAs and have struggled to consistently get left-handed batters out.

Now the options seem wide open for manager Bob Melvin and the front office, with numerous variables. Do they go with just four outfielders? If so, there could be two spots open in an expanded eight-man bullpen. That could allow them to keep not only a lefty but perhaps Raul Alcantara, who is out of minor league options. Alcantara remains a starting rotation option as well.

Do they go with a more conventional seven-man bullpen and keep just one left-hander?

“It’s nice to have a second lefty, yeah,” Melvin said before an 8-5 win to the Mariners. “But if you look at the guys we have in our bullpen, there aren’t too many two-inning guys, guys that can throw more than one inning for you. So that factors in as well.”

Given that, Frankie Montas remains very much in the running for a bullpen spot too. The A’s want to give the hard-throwing right-hander a look as a starter. But coming off an injury-ravaged 2016 season in which he pitched very little, Montas will be on an innings limit, meaning a relief role in which he could be a multi-inning guy might make more sense than starting him right away.

"I wouldn't count him out," Melvin said.

What we know: John Axford, Santiago Casilla, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks and Ryan Madson will occupy six relief spots. The rest of the puzzle won’t likely fall into place until the Bay Bridge Series wraps and the A’s make their final cuts to the 25-man roster.

NOTEWORTHY: Speaking of the A’s top relief arms, Melvin said he’s formulating his thoughts on roles for his late-inning guys but hasn’t talked to any of them individually yet. Regardless, he’s holding to the idea that multiple relievers could be asked to close, depending on availability and matchups.

“Even when I do have that conversation with them before we start the season, I don’t know if it will be an exact science,” Melvin said.

HEALTH UPDATE: Chris Bassitt was scheduled for a 30-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, mixing in all of his pitches for the first time since having Tommy John surgery.

“He was pretty fired up about that,” Melvin said.

COTTON STRUGGLES: Jharel Cotton endured his first poor start of the spring Tuesday night in Peoria, walking five and lasting just 3 2/3 innings. Previously, Cotton had issued just four walks total over three starts. The A’s batted around in a six-run third, but Seattle struck for four runs in the fourth, all charged to Cotton to make it a 6-5 game. “We scored the runs and I was supposed to get back out there and put a zero up,” Cotton said. “The command wasn’t there as much. There’s stuff I’ve got to work on in my sides and get back out there next time.”

ODDS AND ENDS: Yonder Alonso, Trevor Plouffe and Bruce Maxwell all had two hits and two RBI apiece … Robinson Cano had an RBI double off Cotton in the third, but Cotton stranded him at third base by striking out Nelson Cruz on a changeup.