PHOENIX -- From afar, it appeared to be just another ordinary spring scene in the desert -- a pair of pitchers throwing off the mound with a handful of coaches and a couple of fans and media members watching on.
And it would have been, had the pitchers not been lefties Brett Anderson and Dallas Braden.
For the former, it marked his first bullpen session since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July. And, for the latter, it was his fifth following a May shoulder procedure. Each threw 25 pitches -- 10 from the front of the mound and 15 off the rubber.
Anderson gave his efforts an "A-plus," while Braden said, "Whatever one step above that is, I was that."
That's encouraging news for the A's, who are poised to have Braden back in the rotation by early May and Anderson in tow in August.
"Today was good," Anderson said. "I didn't know what to expect from throwing off the mound for the first time. Adrenaline was raised and I probably threw a couple too hard, but for the most part, I probably couldn't ask for a better first time off the mound. The true test will be to see how the body reacts tomorrow, but for the first time it was about as good as you can feel."
And look, apparently.
"I don't want him to read this," manager Bob Melvin said, "but it looked like he was rehabbing a knee and not his arm. I didn't expect the ball to come out of his hand like that on the first day. It certainly seems like everything's tightened up in there pretty good, and the credit goes to him for how well he's rehabbed."
The plan for Anderson, as well as Braden, is to throw one bullpen a week until further notice.
"I feel like every day we're making progress in terms of being able to stretch it out a little farther, put a little more on it, and the biggest area of focus is the bounceback," Braden said. "Everything has been positive thus far in terms of that. I've continued to get stronger."
The A's southpaw has yet to throw a changeup, since his goal is to resume fastball arm speed. That's currently a work in progress -- at a pace the ultra-competitive Braden would hasten if given the chance.
Said the lefty: "We've had a couple of sit-down meetings on how Dallas needs to approach his effort level, and I tell [Melvin], 'Look, I got lucky. I never threw 95, so it's not like I'm going to get back to throwing 95. Why don't you just let me muscle up my 88 at any point in time?,' and they're going, 'No, no, you're 88 could hurt you right now.'"
So, Braden will keep to doctor's orders, all the while acting as a rehab buddy to Anderson.
"Him and I have kind of unconsciously come closer together just because of going through this process together," Braden said. "We have those days where we give each other that internal high five, and then look at each other when it doesn't go so good and give that internal, 'I hate life right now,' and we each understand, so it's nice."