Anderson's unforgettable return to mound

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Anderson's unforgettable return to mound

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OAKLAND -- After 14 months away from the Major Leagues it would be hard to script a more special return to the mound for Brett Anderson. The 24-year-old lefty looked like he never underwent the season-ending "Tommy John" surgery that derailed his 2011 season. Anderson tossed seven innings of one-run ball earning a win that was 443 days in the making as the A's defeated the Twins 4-1. After countless hours spent rehabbing, being poked at and examined by doctors, stretched out, throwing under careful watch, side sessions, some simulated games, and six rehab starts, Anderson returned to the Major Leagues with a vengeance. "You remember your debut and this is kind of like my second debut," Anderson said. "It is always going to be special and I'll remember it forever."Anderson faced one over the minimum in his seven innings pitched. He allowed just four hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out six. Even though Anderson hadn't pitched in the big leagues since June 5, 2011, he turned in one of the best performances of his career."I thought he was about as good as you can be for the first time out," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I know talking to a lot of the players that he can be as dominating as anybody we have here."The A's couldn't have been more correct in their assessment of Anderson after he threw his final side session on Saturday. He clearly was ready to return. Anderson induced 13 ground ball outs and didn't record a single fly out. The only run that Anderson allowed scored when Norris couldn't handle one of Anderson's sliders. It was ruled a wild pitch."I felt pretty good," Anderson said. "The slider was pretty good, got some strikeouts, early contact on the fastballs. Just mixed and matched and made some pitches when I had to."Five of the six strikeouts Anderson recorded were on sliders. Anderson's fastball topped out at 93 mph, he also effectively worked in his curveball and a change-up.The big test for Anderson was just working through the first inning nerves. He allowed two singles in the opening frame and then retired nine straight batters. "Just getting out there and getting on the mound again, throwing a pitch in the big leagues was kind of a relief," Anderson said.As if Anderson's first start back couldn't have been any more special, the A's defense bailed him out with a triple play in the fifth inning. It was the 21st triple play in A's franchise history, the eighth in Oakland history."I was extremely excited," Anderson said of the rare feat. "I don't know if I've seen a triple play, let alone be on a mound for it, so it's pretty awesome and it kind of propelled me for the last couple innings."Anderson is now 1-0 and has a fresh start on his career. His last Major League win came on May 26, 2011 against the Angels. After surviving most of the season with four rookies in the starting rotation the A's now have three veterans in the starting staff for the stretch run -- Bartolo Colon, Brandon McCarthy, and Anderson. The A's are a season-high tying 10 games over .500 (66-56) and they are armed and dangerous.

Friendly jabbing motivated Healy, helped him land A's 3B job

Friendly jabbing motivated Healy, helped him land A's 3B job

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — At this time last year, Ryon Healy was doing his offseason workouts unsure of when his first big league opportunity might come knocking.

Fast forward to his current situation. The A’s young third baseman, coming off a very impressive rookie season, looks like a foundation piece for Oakland. Manager Bob Melvin, giving his annual media address at the winter meetings Wednesday, talked about Healy’s impressive debut and his ability to handle third base in the majors after spending his college days and much of his minor league career at first.

“You know, it’s one thing when you get to the big leagues for the first time, it's a little bit uncomfortable,” Melvin said. “It's another thing when you're playing a position that you haven't played for very long, and that just kind of shows his tenacity. He really feels like he can play anywhere if he had to.”

Healy works out every offseason with Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar, a fellow Southern California resident. Last winter, Healy said Pillar twisted the knife in him a little, jabbing at Healy because he wasn’t invited to the A’s major league spring camp. It was meant to be light-hearted motivation for Healy.

Healy proceeded to get called up at the All-Star break and unseated Danny Valencia at third base, hitting .305 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI in 72 games. So how is he responding to Pillar in this winter’s workouts?

“I’ve already been jawing at him and the fact that I had half a season and almost doubled his home run total (of seven),” Healy told CSN California last week.

All indications are Healy will enter the 2017 season as the A’s starting third baseman. Valencia was traded to Seattle, and the signals coming from Oakland officials are that they’d prefer highly touted third base prospect Matt Chapman to get a little more minor league seasoning at Triple-A. Healy’s emergence makes it easier to make that call.

But Melvin also points to Healy’s versatility, saying he could move across the diamond to first base if need be.

“He just wants to get his bat in the lineup,” Melvin said. “He's a tough kid. And to take to third base, which is not an easy position, as well as he did, you know, speaks to how hard he works. If Chapman ends up being there at some point in time, (Healy’s) natural position is first base. We also have the DH spot. We'll find a place for his bat.”

Report: Rangers bring back Gomez on one-year deal

Report: Rangers bring back Gomez on one-year deal

OXON HILL, Md. -- Outfielder Carlos Gomez has agreed to an $11.5 million, one-year contract to remain with the Texas Rangers, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement was subject to a physical and had not been announced.

Gomez, who turned 31 last weekend, figures to play center field in an outfield that includes Shin-Soo Choo in right and Nomar Mazara in left.

He was released by Houston in August, signed with Texas and hit .284 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 33 games. An All-Star in 2013 and '14 with Milwaukee, Gomez has a .257 average and 116 home runs in 10 big league seasons.

Gomez batted just .210 with five homers in 85 games this year for the Astros.

With the agreement, Texas is not likely to keep outfielder Ian Desmond, who also became a free agent.