OAKLAND -- Brett Anderson threw 28 pitches in a simulated game prior to Tuesday's series opener against the Astros and will pitch two innings of relief for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday as he continues to rehab from a foot injury that's kept him sidelined for most of the season.
The decision to insert Anderson into the middle of the game, along with comments by A's manager Bob Melvin, suggest that Anderson's role with the big league club upon his return will be as a reliever.
"It depends on what our needs are," Melvin said. "We're keeping our options open, but we can get him back quicker in the bullpen, and that may be how we handle it to begin with."
Along with the 28 tosses against Nate Freiman and Seth Smith Tuesday, Anderson participated in pitchers' fielding practice, and Melvin said his foot felt fine.
"The intensity level is there," Melvin said. "He wants to get back as soon as he can."
Improving Norris eyes Thursday return to lineup
OAKLAND -- A's catcher Derek Norris said he feels "1,000 times better" and at "60 percent" healthy since back spasms made it difficult for him to walk two days ago in Toronto.
Norris is available to come off the bench if needed Tuesday and Wednesday and set Thursday as a target date to return to the starting lineup when the Astros send left-handed starter Erik Bedard to the mound.
Norris jogged for the first time since the injury on Tuesday and also hit off a tee, though he skipped batting practice so he could see how his body responded.
"I've never had anything like this. This is something fairly new," Norris. 24, said. "Here and there tweaks was about as far as I ever had. I couldn't even stand or walk. It got to the point where my muscles were so spasmed up that I really couldn't do a whole lot."
Norris said he used anti-inflammatory medication to help calm the spasms, which he compared to cramps one might feel in a hamstring, but because of the sensitive location of the injury, he's made sure not to do anything too strenuous.
Jaso meets with concussion specialist in Pittsburgh
OAKLAND -- John Jaso continues to recover from a concussion that has kept him out of the lineup since July 24, the last time the A's faced the Astros.
Jaso flew to Pittsburgh on Monday to meet with Dr. Michael Collins, a leading authority on concussions, on Tuesday. Manager Bob Melvin said before Tuesday's game the team had yet to receive the results of the consultation and that he'll know more either after the game or on Wednesday.
Oakland's starting catcher has had success exercising on a stationary bike and running on a treadmill, but baseball activities continue to give Jaso trouble. He tried to play catch recently and still felt lingering side effects.
"That was probably the biggest reason why we sent him to Pittsburgh," Melvin said.
Melvin added that Derek Norris is likely to return as the A's No. 2 catcher instead of third baseman Josh Donaldson, who filled the role when Norris was unavailable due to back spasms.
Jeff Kirshman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.