OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson took another step toward returning to the A's today, throwing 28 pitches in a simulated game, and will make a rehab appearance at Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.
It will be the first appearance in a game for the A's opening day starter since April 29. The River Cats play Tucson at home at 7:05 p.m. Manager Bob Melvin said Anderson will throw two innings in relief.
Melvin said Anderson also did pitcher-fielding drills after his simulated action Tuesday and all went well.
"Each and every time there's been a lot of life on the ball," Melvin said. "His intensity level's there and he wants to get back as soon as he can."
It's sounding increasingly like when Anderson does return, he'll start out in the bullpen. That allows the A's to get Anderson back sooner, since they won't have to stretch him out to a starter's pitch count in the minors. As he builds his stamina back up, he could rejoin the rotation further down the road, but the fact that he'll be pitching in relief on Saturday is an indication the A's want him comfortable in that role right now.
"We'll bring him in in the middle of the game just so he gets that feel that he hasn't really had," Melvin said.
* Here's the A's lineup for tonight's series opener against the Houston Astros:
And the Astros lineup against Bartolo Colon, who goes for his 15th win tonight:
* A few more A's injury updates: Catcher Derek Norris said his back feels "a thousand times better" than it did Sunday, and that he could be available off the bench tonight. He's targeting a start Thursday, when the Astros are scheduled to throw a left-hander. Unlike yesterday, though, Melvin said he's considering Norris his backup catcher tonight rather than emergency option Josh Donaldson.
Coco Crisp is out again with a sore left wrist, and Melvin said he wasn't sure if Crisp would take batting practice before the game. The A's will re-evaluate him tomorrow.
John Jaso, meanwhile, is not with the team, having flown to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Michael Collins, an expert in sports-related concussions. Jaso is continuing to have symptoms and Melvin said the A's decided to send Jaso to see Collins after Jaso tried to play catch a few days ago and "still felt it a little bit."
That's the only baseball-related activity Jaso has done since landing on the disabled list. Melvin said Jaso, who last played July 24, is ramping up activity on the treadmill and stationary bike, but otherwise is in a holding pattern. Jaso was scheduled to see Collins today, so the A's expect an update tonight.
* The A's don't have a hotter hitter right now than Josh Reddick, who went 6-for-14 in Toronto and is batting third tonight for only the 10th time this season. Reddick was a regular in the third spot last season but has mostly been hitting lower this year due to a season-long slump.
"We want to ride a confident streak that he's going through right now," Melvin said.
* The A's would also like to see a bounce-back outing from Colon, who had his shortest start of the year last time out in Cincinnati. One thing to watch for: ESPN Stats and Info tweeted today that if Colon gets a win tonight, he would become the first pitcher ever to win 15 games in a season for four different American League teams.
Colon won 15 or more games twice for both the Indians (1999, 2000) and the Angels (2004, 2005) and in his lone season with the Chicago White Sox (2003). He also won 20 games in 2002, but that season was split between Cleveland and the Montreal Expos.
-- Matt Kawahara