Already booming with talent, Oakland's pitching staff will welcome in more of it via a familiar face on Tuesday, when lefty Brett Anderson is scheduled to make his first big league start in more than a year.
The 24-year-old Anderson, reinstated from the disabled list on Monday following a 13-month rehab from Tommy John surgery, will face the visiting Twins in his season debut. He takes the rotation spot of righty Dan Straily, who was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento as the corresponding move despite an impressive showing in three starts.
"We felt like he's ready," manager Bob Melvin said. "We feel like this could be a nice little shot in the arm for us. We tried to get this guy ready and back, and when he was ready, we said we'd get him here, because he is so talented. We're looking forward to watching him tomorrow."
Anderson made six rehab starts in the past month, compiling a 4.62 ERA during that span while regaining feel for his pitches. He's expected to throw no more than 100 of them Tuesday.
"It's exciting," Anderson said. "It's a lot of hard work and a lot of days put in to get to tomorrow, but hopefully it all pays off with a good outing.
"I'm confident. You have to be. If you go out there and are timid and scared, it's going to show up on the field. I like where I'm at. It'll be fun to pitch in front of a crowd and against a big-league team rather than in front of 350 people in New Orleans."
Anderson's last memories of pitching on a big league mound aren't too fond, having given up a combined 15 runs in 10 1/3 innings to the Yankees and Red Sox, before succumbing to injury after his start against the latter on June 11 last year. But his confidence, like his health, is back, and much of that stems from the organization's belief in him to immediately contribute to a contending team.
"These are meaningful innings, so I want to go out and pitch well, because we need to win ballgames," Anderson said. "So it's going to be that much more pressure-filled, but I wouldn't have it any other way."
The lefty, who was wanted by a handful of teams near the Trade Deadline, is a prized possession in Oakland, where he signed a four-year deal -- with team options for 2014 and 2015 -- worth $12.5 million in 2010, having compiled just 32 career starts up to that point. Anderson responded in fine fashion, finishing the season with a 2.80 ERA, before making just 13 starts in a shortened 2011 season.
Since, Anderson has dropped nearly 25 pounds, taking full advantage of the time away from the mound in hopes of returning to it in better shape.
"I feel strong, I feel healthy, and hopefully it translates to good things," Anderson said, before entering sarcastic mode. "Who knows? If it doesn't, maybe I'll go try to eat cheeseburgers and get fat."
"These Tommy John surgeries, these guys come back stronger and better at times and will sometimes throw harder at times," Melvin said. "He's worked very hard, is in much better shape than he was in. Everything that we've seen and the way he's feeling would suggest that he's ready to go."
Melvin, asked several times over the course of the last month about the possibility of a six-man rotation upon Anderson's return, said Monday that the club is not "in a position to do anything but [a five-man rotation]" for now, noting that it's tough to do before rosters expand in September.
In the meantime, Anderson isn't worried about how many days will separate his starts. He's simply focused on one day.
"It definitely feels like it's been awhile," he said. "You can't go out there tomorrow and worry about mechanics, about your elbow. You just have to go out and get people out and do what you can to help your team win."