CHICAGO -- The countdown to lefty Brett Anderson's return appears close to entering single digits.
Oakland's rehabbing hurler, who pitched six shutout innings for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, is slated to make just one more start with the River Cats, before the A's begin forging a plan to get the southpaw back in their already crowded rotation.
That time could even come sooner, should the A's need Anderson before then -- a possibility if righty Brandon McCarthy doesn't recover well enough from his Friday start to go on turn another time through the rotation. For now, though, the plan is for McCarthy to pitch Tuesday or Wednesday.
"We'll see what transpires between now and his next time out, but there is a pretty decent chance Brett will pitch one more game down there," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We probably want to target at least 100 pitches, and we feel like he can get there next time."
Anderson threw 80 pitches on Friday, of which 47 were strikes, and allowed just three hits with four strikeouts and one walk in Oklahoma City. His last big league start came June 5 of last year before he underwent Tommy John surgery.
Closer role to be shared as Cook rights ship
CHICAGO -- No longer relying solely on Ryan Cook in the ninth inning, A's manager Bob Melvin said save situations would be shared in the coming days.
Cook has not lost his job, Melvin insisted. He's simply undergoing a brief role change, following struggles that brought about nine runs allowed over his previous eight games.
"It just means maybe we're targeting a spot for him that's not closing at this point," Melvin said. "It could be one time, it could be a couple, and he knows that."
In an effort to get the rookie some confidence back, Melvin said he would "like to get him a nice clean inning where, potentially, it's not of the magnitude of closing."Cook entered Saturday's 9-7 win in the seventh inning with one out and a runner on first and promptly gave up two singles to allow the White Sox to take a 7-6 lead. He escaped further damage with an inning-ending double play before exiting in the eighth with two outs and runner, on base via a hit-by-pitch, on first.
The likely go-to guy in the ninth is right-hander Grant Balfour, who compiled 13 1/3 scoreless innings before allowing a home run to the Angels' Mark Trumbo on Wednesday. Balfour began the season as the team's closer, before he, too, was relegated to a setup role after a string of troubled outings.