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11/14/11 7:44 PM EST

A's encouraged by progress of prospect Ynoa

OAKLAND -- Right-hander Michael Ynoa, one of the most highly regarded prospects in the A's system, appears to finally be on the right track since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2010.

According to A's director of player development Keith Lieppman, Ynoa threw a bullpen session in the Dominican Republic on Monday and is scheduled to take part in another on Friday. Barring any setbacks, he could land in a game prior to the end of the Dominican Instructional League on Dec. 2.

"He is free and easy with no problems," said Lieppman, who watched Ynoa's session. "So far, so good."

It's welcome news for the A's, who signed the Dominican to a then-record $4.25 million bonus in 2008, when he was just 16 years old. At the time, he was projected to be in the big leagues by age 20, but that birthday came and went in September.

The injury-prone Ynoa has as many 60-day disabled-list stints in his career as he does professional appearances (three) and has just nine innings in the Arizona Rookie League to his name. He will be eligible for the 2012 Rule 5 Draft if he's not a member of Oakland's 40-man roster at that time, but the A's are hoping he can reclaim his stock before then.

Lieppman said Ynoa is likely to start the 2012 season at extended spring training before being sent to Class A Vermont.

Anderson throws for first time since surgery

OAKLAND -- Any update on Brett Anderson's rehab journey wouldn't really be complete without mention of the pitcher's ongoing separation from Coca-Cola.

Speaking by phone from Austin, Texas, on Monday, the A's lefty confirmed that it's been nearly four months since he's consumed soda, which was once before part of his daily survival guide.

Perhaps it all sounds silly, but it's a point of pride for Anderson, who has shed more than 20 pounds while rehabbing from July's Tommy John procedure. And on Monday, Anderson watched those efforts pay off, as he played catch for the first time and came out of the session -- which included about 20 throws at a distance of 45 feet -- pain-free.

"It felt kinda weird, like how it would be if you were walking again or riding your bike again for the first time in forever," Anderson said. "But after about 10 throws, I felt pretty good, and I realize it's just one other thing I have to do in this process.

"Hopefully, now that I've started playing catch, it'll sort of expedite the process, at least in my mind. Once you can look at a schedule, you have goals to look forward to. Just getting to the point I'm at now has been kind of a grind, but now that I feel like an actual baseball player again, hopefully things start coming back quick."

The grind will continue for several more months. Anderson has pinpointed July 2012 -- marking a year since the surgery -- for a targeted return date to a big league mound. In the meantime, he'll follow a schedule dictated by the combined efforts of the A's training staff and the Andrews Institute of Dr. James Andrews.

Though rehab will keep Anderson out of the mix for all of the first half of the season, he's "just happy to be throwing a baseball again," he said.

Furthermore, he's upped his conditioning efforts and running an average of two to three miles multiple times a week.

"It's not my favorite thing ever," he said. "Running just to run, I don't think too many people like that, but it's part of the deal and it gets you in shape. I might as well take advantage of this time and get in the best shape of possible. It's frustrating it takes something like this for that to happen, but you have to make the best of it to make sure something like this doesn't happen again."

Since agreeing to a four-year contract extension worth $12.5 million in April 2010, Anderson has endured three disabled-list stints that have limited him to 32 starts in that span. But he'll be just 24 upon his scheduled return next year, leaving the youngster plenty time to reboot his career.

"I still have a long way to go, but I'm excited about what I can do once I'm back," he said. "Hopefully things will continue to go smoothly."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.