PHOENIX There is no doubt that left-hander Brett Anderson is a standup guy who wants to be the leader of the A's rotation.
What is less clear is whether Oakland needs him to fill the role of a classic leader the way Dave Stewart did a generation ago. More than once, with the A's backs against the wall, Stewart huddled with his teammates before big games and "guaranteed" a win. And he produced.
By his own admission, Anderson doesn't have that kind of personality. He's perfectly willing to talk and engage the media, but if what the A's need is someone to rally the troops with his vocal cords, he's not the right fit.
Heading into the 2013 season, the A's need someone at the top of the totem pole, the kind of leader who leads by example on the field. Anderson is a good fit.
"I think every team needs a pitcher where they can say, 'We feel this is our ace,' " pitching coach Curt Young said. "And Brett has put himself in that position. There are different kinds of leaders. Brett wants to be seen as one of the best pitchers in major league baseball. As he does that, he'll lead by example."
But whether he leads vocally or by example, Anderson has to stay healthy, something he's been unable to do since his rookie season in 2009. He went 11-11 in 30 starts his first year. Since then, he's had just 38 starts spread over three seasons. He's pitched well with a 3.20 ERA, but he hasn't pitched often, and that has to change.
Most of his problems have been with a sore left elbow that finally caused him to have reconstructive surgery midway through the 2011 season. Late last season, he suffered a right abdominal injury but came back in time for the playoffs.
As for the leadership role, Anderson sees a position his club needs to have filled.
"It's a little weird; I'm 25 and I have some of the longest tenure on the club," he said. "I don't know how that happened. I don't classify myself as old. But I have to be more of a leader. I'm not a rah-rah, vocal guy, but guys can come ask questions. And maybe some of my eccentric personality will come out now."
Notes Left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima signed his minor league contract and took part in a full workout Tuesday, although he didn't throw off a mound. One reason he liked Oakland is that he worked under Young during the 2011 season in Boston.
"I think getting him is a very big deal," Young said.
Manager Bob Melvin said he likes the effort turned in by right-hander Andrew Carignan, throwing 60 feet on the side, 25 pitches in all, just seven months after ligament-replacement elbow surgery. He might pitch during the second half of the season.