MLB

A's Doolittle revived career with return to mound

Share This Story

   
 

PHOENIX (AP)

Sean Doolittle had a cast covering his right wrist three years ago, the latest in a series of injuries that cost him nearly three years of his professional career.

With his dreams of reaching the major leagues as a first baseman slowly fading, Doolittle made sure he wasn't going to spend the rest of his life wondering if he could have reached the big time: he returned to his roots as a pitcher.

''When you look back and see where he's come from, it's pretty amazing,'' Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin said Sunday. ''From when I first saw him, I was surprised. The next thing you know he's closing a game against the Yankees.''

Doolittle began the transition during the summer of 2011 at extended spring training in Phoenix. With the cast making it impossible to put on a glove, he needed someone to catch for him as he began a long process of building his strength and stamina.

''I was on a six-week long toss program before I even got on a mound,'' Doolittle said. ''I'm grateful for the way they brought me along.''

He no longer has to worry about his place with the Athletics, though he continues to work at his craft. He's a valued member of their bullpen and part of the reason the A's will start the season as two-time defending AL West Division champions.

Doolittle credits several people who helped him make the transition, including his brother Ryan Doolittle, A's director of minor leagues Keith Lippman and A's pitching instructor Garvin Alston. But he said it started with Virginia pitching coach Karl Kuhn.

''I did not pitch at all since college,'' Doolittle said. ''When I got back on the mound so much of it came back so fast because he drilled it in.''

Doolittle drew attention as a pitcher and offensive player out of Shawnee High in New Jersey, and there were teams that like him as a pitcher with Virginia. The A's originally drafted him as a hitter in the 2007 amateur draft, making him the 41st overall pick.

''I didn't have a preference,'' Doolittle said. ''I wanted to be good at both.''

He was a top prospect his first 2 1/2 years in the organization. Injuries began robbing Doolittle of time. He underwent a pair of knee operation before seriously injuring his wrist.

''I was really at the end of my rope,'' said Doolittle, who left Virginia with a school record 22 wins. ''The decision really came out of wanting to extend my career. I didn't want to look back in five or 10 years and have to wonder what might have happened. I didn't want any regrets.''

He was close to making it as a position player and was set to return to the A's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento before making the switch.

Just about the time Melvin was introduced as the A's interim manager, Doolittle rebooted his baseball career as an interim pitcher.

''It is not lost on me on how crazy it is,'' Doolittle said. ''I've seen enough guys in Triple-A who spend their whole careers there and couldn't catch a break. I've been here two years and we have two division titles. I still take nothing for granted.''

NOTES: Melvin announced RHP Jesse Chavez as his Cactus League opening day starter Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants. RHP Josh Lindblom and RHP Evan Scribner will follow. . RHP Jarrod Parker starts Thursday, which puts him on pace to start the regular season opener, and LHP Tommy Milone starts Friday. . OF Craig Gentry (back) remains out and IF Darwin Perez remains in Venezuela with visa issues related to the turmoil in the country.

Tagged: Athletics

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



MLB Videos

Bautista talks Derek Jeter's final All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Jose Bautista discusses Derek Jeter's career and his final appearance in the MLB...

Jeter honored to play in last All-Star Game Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Derek Jeter compares his first All-Star Game experience with his last, Mike Trou...

Matheny defends Wainwright: He's out there to compete Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Mike Matheny comments on the media's reaction to Adam Wainwright's joke about le...

SimLeague Baseball - Simulation Baseball Game

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Yankees/browse/featuredproduct/606363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_606000/ff_606363_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike New York Yankees Practice T-Shirt - Ash
    Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/1064043/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1064000/ff_1064043_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic Detroit Tigers 2012 MLB American League Champions Clubhouse Locker Room..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room T-Shirt - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067359/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067359_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room Pullover Hoodie - Steel http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067382/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067382_xl.jpg&w=100 54.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker R..
    New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Room 39THIRTY Flex Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1067785/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1067000/ff_1067785_xl.jpg&w=100 31.95 New Era San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Clubhouse Locker Ro..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068294/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068294_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Glory T-Shirt - Bl..
    Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice Performance Jersey - Black/Orange http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_San_Francisco_Giants/browse/featuredproduct/1068787/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1068000/ff_1068787_xl.jpg&w=100 94.95 Majestic San Francisco Giants 2012 MLB World Series Champions Batting Practice P..