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OAKLAND -- A's opening day starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy last pitched on June 19. He has missed 22 games since then. On Wednesday he made a significant step toward returning to the mound for the A's. By stepping on the bullpen mound and throwing for the first time since re-aggravating his strained right shoulder. McCarthy threw 25 pitches, mixing in his full arsenal. It is a step in the right direction because he had only been playing catch in the outfield prior. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He threw all his pitches, he looked good to me." McCarthy has missed a total of 35 games with right shoulder pain. His MRIs have all come back clean. It appears the only prescription is rest and extra care.
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Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden threw long toss in the outfield. Anderson will start on Saturday for the Stockton Ports. He will be throwing 45 pitches in the outing. The A's aren't ready to commit to how many outings it will likely take to get him back in their starting rotation. "There's an eye on certain dates but I don't want to go there yet," Melvin said. With the A's leading the American League with a 3.43 ERA, and two-to-three key starting pitchers on the mend, they have a good problem on their hands. The starting rotation doesn't have any weak links, so what do the A's do? One option would be going to a six-man rotation. They have expressed concern over the amount of innings rookie Jarrod Parker has been throwing. That might help remedy the concern.RELATED: Positive signs for Anderson, Braden, and McCarthy
Rookie pitchers have accounted for 360.2 of the A's total innings pitched this season. That's roughly 45 percent of their innings pitched. A six-man rotation could help lighten the load. It is an unconventional idea though. The A's last went to a six-man rotation in 2009 under Bob Geren. The team's current manager Bob Melvin has yet to consider it. "We haven't talked about that at this point," he said. Remember this is the A's we are talking about. When situations of extra depth present themselves, the issue is usually worked out on it's own. There is no point forecasting what could happen when Anderson and McCarthy -- or even Braden -- are healthy. They might as well cross that road when the time comes.