Braden takes step forward with bullpen session

Braden takes step forward with bullpen session

OAKLAND -- As well as the A's young pitching staff has performed this season, the team knows its rotation could be even better with the eventual return of injured starters Dallas Braden and Brett Anderson. Luckily for Oakland, both lefties appear to be on track to return in the not-too-distant future.

Braden took a big step forward on Monday when he threw his first bullpen session since straining his surgically repaired left shoulder before the season. He only threw 20 pitches, all fastballs, but manager Bob Melvin said Braden looked good.

Braden, apparently, was excited about finally getting back on the mound.

"Talk about fired up for an appearance, that was like game day for him," Melvin said. "I'm sure he woke up this morning a little extra pep in his step. Threw 20 pitches and he looked good. I actually was surprised how good he looked. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and what the next step is."

Melvin said he expects Braden to return and make a few starts this season, an expectation he had previously shared for Anderson, too.

The latter is ahead of Braden, having gotten up to 40 pitches and mixing in breaking balls in his latest bullpen session. Anderson will have another bullpen session on Tuesday and will then throw hitters on Friday, marking the first time he'll do so since undergoing Tommy John surgery last July.

Though both pitchers are progressing well, Melvin said there's no timetable for either's return.