DETROIT -- A's pitcher Brett Anderson's first career relief appearance also happened to mark the last time he was in a big league game before Wednesday night.
That was four months ago, when he tossed 5 1/3 innings in the A's 19-inning win over the Angels. Now Anderson's back, returning from a stress fracture in his right foot to the same role he left.
Anderson was officially activated off the disabled list in Detroit on Wednesday and listed on the lineup card in the bullpen, as the postseason-hopeful A's prepare to use their Opening Day starter in any way needed.
"I don't know exactly," said manager Bob Melvin. "He can pitch in any number of roles. We also want to hold out the option of potentially stretching him out, too, which is kind of difficult to forecast when that opportunity can come up. I could use him for a hitter, I could use him for a couple of innings, I could try to stretch him out based on where the game's going. It's more of a feel thing, so we'll wait and see."
Melvin didn't have to wait long to see, throwing Anderson out for the seventh inning and letting him finish off the A's 14-4 victory over the Tigers. The lefty allowed three runs on five hits but recorded his first save, even getting the game ball.
"That's what we were looking for," said Melvin. "We were fortunate to have that opportunity to get him out there and stretch him out a little bit, and his stuff looked pretty crisp. There were a couple pitches he left out in the middle of the plate, but his slider looked tight, he had a good curveball, the velocity on his fastball was good."
"It was good," Anderson said. "All things considered, I'll probably never feel better about giving up three runs in an outing than I did tonight. I threw strikes exponentially better than I did in my rehab starts."
Anderson threw 56 pitches in the outing, leading Melvin to deem him closer to being ready to start again.
The biggest dilemma stemming from Anderson's unknown role? A's relievers are sporting faux-hawks, while starters are bonding over facial hair.
"I'm torn," he said. "I don't know if I need a Mohawk or a mustache. I can't do 'em all. I'll probably just do my own deal. It's weird."
Regardless, putting Anderson in the bullpen was the easiest way to get him back quickly without him having to "waste too many bullets" with rehab starts, Melvin said.
"He just wants to be back on the team, and this is the quickest way to do it," Melvin continued. "He considers himself a starter, and he wants to be a starter again, but I think just being active, out there with everyone, more than anything else that's what he's excited about."
"I didn't think it would take this long to get back," Anderson said, "but that's kind of just the way it played out, and hopefully I can be a boost to the ballclub from here on out."
Milone optioned to Minors day after topping Tigers
DETROIT -- Less than 24 hours after beating the Tigers and Justin Verlander, A's lefty Tommy Milone was optioned back to the Minors for the second time this month.
The move was mostly inevitable, with Brett Anderson returning to the club Wednesday, Bartolo Colon on Thursday.
So there was likely nothing Milone could've done differently on Tuesday night, when he gave up three runs (two earned) against the Tigers in the first inning before tossing four scoreless frames thereafter in a rain-shortened victory.
"I kind of had an idea this might happen, being the fifth man with Brett and Bartolo coming back, I could be the odd man out," Milone said. "I was hoping it maybe didn't happen, but it is what is.
"I knew, no matter what, I needed to throw a good game, regardless if I was going to be sent down or not. They kind of reassured me and told me it was more about the numbers game. They needed to get Brett back on the roster, and I just pitched, so it makes it easier that way."
Milone was optioned to Class A Stockton rather than Triple-A Sacramento to ensure a speedy return. Since the Ports have already been eliminated from playoff contention, Milone is allowed to return to the A's as soon as their season ends Monday. The River Cats, however, could be playoff-bound, so Milone would be required to remain with them for at least 10 days before being recalled.
Asked if he expected Milone back soon, manager Bob Melvin replied, "No question."
Neshek clears waivers, outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento
DETROIT -- A's reliever Pat Neshek has cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday, the club announced.
The veteran righty, who was designated for assignment on Monday, had a 3.58 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 37 2/3 innings for the A's this year, his last outing a 44-pitch performance against the Orioles on Sunday.
"This late in the season, we certainly didn't want to lose him," said manager Bob Melvin. "We would've liked to try to keep him, but we needed some length at the time. I don't doubt that he will be a guy we will see in September.
"I think that was the hope all along."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.