ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – This was the year Brett Anderson hoped to show he was the man in the A's starting rotation.
So far, he's only been a specter of what he hopes to be. Between so-so appearances, miscellaneous aches and now Friday's twisted right ankle, Anderson has taken a step back from the pitcher he was down the stretch in 2012.
Anderson will know the status of his ankle today. He left Tropicana Field after the A's 8-3 loss to the Rays wearing an air cast to help combat the swelling and pain.
The veteran left-hander hurt himself delivering the next-to-last pitch of the first inning to Yunel Escobar. By that point, the Rays had overcome an early 2-0 A's lead with four runs off Anderson, who would not come out of the dugout for the second inning.
He's now 1-3 in four starts with a 5.95 ERA and the owner of an ankle that may or may not keep him from missing his next start.
"I just landed on it and it felt not good," Anderson said. "It stiffened up pretty good. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.
"It's kind of depressing because I'm talking about injuries and stuff and not baseball. This is a sour note. The team goes out and has a good first inning, then I go out and walked the leadoff hitter. I'm notorious for not walking guys, and I've got to go back to the drawing board and see what's wrong."
In his first 19 2/3 innings, Anderson has already walked 11. In the 35 innings he pitched in six starts after coming back from Tommy John-style ligament-replacement surgery, he walked only seven.
So while the ankle injury is a problem now, it doesn't come close to explaining what Anderson has been doing wrong. He walked two of the first five men he faced, and both scored. He threw 36 pitches, and only 18 were strikes.
Manager Bob Melvin wasn't as harsh on Anderson as the left-hander was on himself.
"He was a little bit more aggressive than he had been," Melvin said. "He got behind in the count, and they hit some pitches."
The question now is just how bad is this injury? The A's have Dan Straily, who is pitching well with the River Cats, available if they need him four days hence in Boston. He's off to a 2-0 start and a 1.42 ERA in Triple A, and that doesn't count the 6 2/3-inning, two-run, 11-strikeout effort he turned in as a sub for Bartolo Colon in the first week of the season.
Melvin said trainer Nick Paparesta made it clear the club wouldn't know much until Anderson reports to the park today.
"We'll have a better idea then," Melvin said.
Anderson did have an X-ray taken, but the A's didn't have results after the game. And they aren't expecting bad news. It was just a precaution.