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Anderson in total control in final tuneup

@goodforball
March 24, 2019

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson remains a desirable commodity although his injury history resembles a medical school textbook. Sunday, he demonstrated the skills that he's capable of when healthy, limiting the Giants to three hits in six innings and propelling the A's to a 5-0 triumph in the Bay Bridge Series

OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson remains a desirable commodity although his injury history resembles a medical school textbook. Sunday, he demonstrated the skills that he's capable of when healthy, limiting the Giants to three hits in six innings and propelling the A's to a 5-0 triumph in the Bay Bridge Series exhibition opener.

Anderson, who has pitched for five teams in 10 seasons, was in full control against the Giants, throwing 47 strikes in 66 pitches and issuing one walk. He was so effective that he hiked his pitch count by throwing in the bullpen after he was removed from the game. His six innings were a spring high for A's starters.

"When he's 'on,' this is what he does, and he's been basically on all spring," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Anderson, who trimmed his exhibition ERA to 2.87. "You really don't go on Spring Training results with guys like him, but it's nice to see him pitching in the fashion that he is."

As Oakland's projected No. 3 starter, Anderson's performance will be essential to the team's success. He looked ready for anything against the Giants, who absorbed their fourth shutout defeat of the spring.

Said Anderson, who has endured shoulder, foot and back ailments during his career, "It's always good to end on a positive note heading into the season."

"It looks to me like he's pitching with more confidence," Melvin said. "He is in better shape. He's moving around better. You see him covering first and doing things that in the past may have been more of a challenge for him."

Mighty Montas
Though Melvin hasn't named Oakland's season-opening starting rotation beyond Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada and Anderson, Frankie Montas appears destined to claim one of the two remaining spots.

Montas may have clinched a rotation role with his three no-hit innings against the Giants. The 26-year-old right-hander recorded a 0.56 spring ERA.

"Frankie Montas is pitching great," Melvin said. "I'm not saying he's on there for sure -- we'll let guys know at the appropriate time -- but, man, he's done everything that you would ask to make a team. And when you're pitching like he is to make a team, there's more pressure on you. So it's been doubly impressive."

Complementing his searing fastball with sinkers and changeups has helped Montas improve.

"I feel like I'm attacking hitters a little more," he said, adding that his complementary pitches "get the hitters off the fastball a little more."

Olson's woes
Matt Olson tried to view his injured right hand from a positive perspective. But he didn't sound all that convincing.

"The timing of it is good and bad," Olson told reporters. "Good, because I kind of get five or six days here to try to get ahead. But it sucks, because it's the beginning of the year and you work all offseason to get to this point."

Olson, who played all 162 games and hit 29 homers last year, realizes that his four- to eight-week recovery period easily could be subject to change due to the time he'll need to regain strength in his hand, which required surgery on Friday. "There's really no timetable," Melvin said.

Olson hurt himself as he fouled off a pitch during the second game of the season-opening series against Seattle in Tokyo.

"Once I got around the bases, and I couldn't even grip the bat when I came back in, I knew something was up," Olson said.

Mark Canha, who was among the handful of possible first-base replacements named by Melvin, received the initial assignment as Olson's fill-in on Sunday. Canha made a nice play to snare Brandon Belt's line drive with two on and two outs to end the sixth inning.

Jurickson Profar and Chad Pinder are other candidates to play first.

Maximum from the minimum
The A's collected just four hits, one more than they allowed the Giants. But three of Oakland's hits were home runs. Stephen Piscotty connected with Matt Chapman aboard to open the scoring in the first inning, Profar went deep in the fourth inning and Ramon Laureano added a two-run homer in the seventh.

Up next
The scene shifts to San Francisco's Oracle Park for the final two Bay Bridge Series exhibitions. Right-hander Liam Hendriks will start Monday's 6:45 p.m. PT rematch for the A's.

Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @goodforball.