OAKLAND -- Right-hander Brandon McCarthy is nearing a return to the A's, and it looks like fellow starter Brett Anderson isn't too far behind.
The lefty made his third rehab start on Tuesday in his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he underwent last July and took a "big step," in his words.
Anderson allowed two runs in four innings for Triple-A Sacramento, but like with McCarthy, the focus is more on how he feels than the actual results. After his stuff and delivery were inconsistent in his first two outings, Anderson reported improvement in those areas on Tuesday. His breaking ball was much improved, and his velocity remained in the 90-93 mph range.
"I felt good," Anderson said on Wednesday. "Breaking ball was better than it has been, finally got some strikeouts on it. Velocity was about the same. It's getting closer and closer to being consistent as I make more starts. Threw 73 pitches, Sunday will be close to that again, and then maybe build up after that a little more."
The four strikeouts he had were significant, since they were his first punchouts in game action since June 5 of last year. To mess with Anderson, River Cats infielder Wes Timmons gave him a commemorative ball marking the milestone, complete with sarcastic congratulatory remarks scribbled on it.
But Anderson's progress is no joke. He will pitch again for Sacramento on Sunday with another pitch count around 75. After that, he will work that count up close to 90-100 pitches. If all goes well, he could be only one or two more rehab outings away from finally rejoining Oakland.