Anderson looks to improve on rookie season

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PHOENIX (AP) -- Katelyn Anderson thinks it's pretty cool having an older brother pitching in the major leagues. For the rest of the Anderson clan, though, it's business as usual.

Oakland left-hander Brett Anderson, who led all rookies with 150 strikeouts last year, has pitched in a Futures all-star game, the Olympics and in major league ballparks.

His demeanor contradicts his experience. He wears his hat off-kilter at times and looks more like the neighborhood kid who mows lawns than the Athletics' staff leader in wins from last year.

Anderson maintains his even temperament thanks in large part to growing up in a sports family.

His father, Frank, is the head baseball coach at Oklahoma State and a former pitching coach at Texas - the Longhorns won the 2002 national title during his tenure - and Texas Tech. His mother, Sandra, was an All-American softball player at Kearney State. His 11-year-old sister is a budding star in soccer and once scored 20 points in a basketball game.

"My mom is probably the toughest on me," Anderson said. "She'll want to know why I threw a certain pitch that got hit for a home run. My dad keeps an eye on me and is always interested in how I'm throwing. I think my sister is just happy to go on road trips to places like Florida, Boston and Los Angeles. She even got a passport to go to Toronto."

Spring training is out of the question as a destination for a family vacation. There's school for his sister and a demanding schedule for the Cowboys.

"After school lets out and my dad's season winds down, they find time to see me," Anderson said Wednesday. "Sometimes my dad will make a recruiting trip to wherever we're playing and we can get together. It all works out."

Anderson led the A's in strikeouts and wins (11-11) and pitched one of the five shutouts by an AL rookie last season. With Trevor Cahill's 10 wins last year, the duo were the 13th since 1900 to have two pitchers under the age of 22 win 10 or more games, and the first since the 1984 Kansas City Royals' Mark Gubicza and Bret Saberhagen.

Anderson, who started using his changeup more after the All-Star break, was 8-4 with a 2.96 ERA, and .237 opponents batting average over his final 17 starts, dating to June 29. He considers that a starting point for this year.

With access to the Cowboys' indoor facilities, Anderson grabbed any catcher available to maintain his throwing program.

"I worked on my changeup as a fourth weapon," he said. "I'd like to duplicate what I did in the second half. I'd like to start the season how I ended the last one."

He's slotted into the No. 3 spot behind Ben Sheets and Dallas Braden for now and will make his spring training debut Sunday in Tempe against the Los Angeles Angels.

"This spring training is more relaxed," Anderson said. "Trevor and I were trying to impress everybody and make the team last year by getting people out. Now we're able to work on different things. The adjustment period is shorter and the overall atmosphere is better."

In Beijing, Anderson was the winning pitcher in the bronze medal game. He once found himself eating lunch next to swimming superstar Michael Phelps.

These days he thinks the A's could have their share of superstars.

"We have the chance to be one of the best staffs in the big leagues," he said. "The bullpen is unbelievable and we've added guys who know what it takes."

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