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Anderson sharp against minor leaguers

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) — Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson pitched five simulated innings against minor leaguers Tuesday after a stiff neck forced him to miss his scheduled start a day earlier.

Anderson threw 80 pitches during the hour-long workout, mixing his fastball and curve with an increasingly efficient changeup that impressed A's pitching coach Curt Young.

"From the view I had you can't throw the baseball much better for executing," said Young, who watched Anderson while standing near second base. "It was a great day for him. The one thing he needs to work on, and he knows he needs to work on, is his changeup factor."

Anderson was supposed to start Monday's game against Seattle, but was pushed back because of a stiff neck that first began bothering the 22-year-old over the weekend.

Oakland had a day off Tuesday, so Anderson got his work in at the team's minor league camp less than a mile away from the A's spring training facilities. He had seven strikeouts and walked one and allowed three hits.

"I felt good, really good today," Anderson said. "I was trying to feature my changeup a little bit. My last couple of outings I want to incorporate more of my breaking balls like I would throw in a game, so my next outing will be key in that aspect."

Anderson, who went 11-11 as a rookie in 2009, is projected to be Oakland's third or fourth starter. Ben Sheets and Dallas Braden appear to have the top two spots locked up while two-time All-Star Justin Duchscherer — who pitched four strong innings against Seattle on Tuesday during his first appearance in 19 months — and Trevor Cahill are also in the mix.

The key for Anderson is the development of his changeup, which he's been working on all spring to complement his off-speed pitches.

"Last year I used (a curveball) as a changeup, just something slower paced to righties," Anderson said. "I might use it a little differently this year because my changeup's progressing and I can throw it in those counts."

Being able to pitch this week was key for Anderson, who slept in an awkward position over the weekend which led to him having a stiff neck, which postponed his usual turn in the A's rotation.

"It was one of those fluke deals watching TV one day in the hotel kind of propped up," Anderson said. "I felt it a little bit but not too bad, then woke up the next morning and I couldn't even move it. I had to turn to talk to somebody."

Notes: LHP Gio Gonzalez was also scheduled to pitch in a minor league game Tuesday but instead will pitch in relief against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. ... The A's play back-to-back night games against the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, a rarity in the Cactus League. ... Oakland manager Bob Geren took advantage of the day off and flew back to the Bay Area to visit his family.