Monday was a good day to be Sean Doolittle.
The left-handed A’s reliever came in having been pain-free for three days in the wake of suffering a right calf strain Tuesday. Then he went on the mound and threw as if he’d never missed any time at all.
He showed good velocity, if not pin-point command.
“I felt really good,’’ Doolittle said. “It was important to test it, but I didn’t think it was any big deal. I tweaked it on Tuesday and by Wednesday night I wasn’t feeling any pain.’’
The thing is, Doolittle is actually ahead of schedule, at least based on his 2013 spring when he was held out of competition.
Not only was he coming off a good, long rookie year last spring, but he was still raw as a pitcher, having only just made the switch from hitting to pitching.
“Last year I was coming off my first year of pitching,’’ Doolittle said. “Combined in the major and minor leagues I’d thrown over 70 innings. Now having some more experience, my body has responded better.
“I can now get thrown in with some of the other guys and just get ready and be lie one of the normal guys.’’
Manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young held Doolittle out of early work at this time last year, so the way the pitcher sees it, he’s ahead of the game.
“I guess I’m a coup of days behind, but I was like a week behind last year,’’ he said. “This way we can take our time and I can get integrated into the group. I like this a little bit better.’’
–The A’s who never seem to tire of adding to their bullpen, picked up another lefty Monday by claiming 6-3, 235-pound Joe Savery from the Phillies, who put him on the designated for assignment list because they needed the roster space after having signed A.J.. Burnett.
It’s the kind of move that could work out in the short term for the team because one of their other pickups this winter, lefty Eric O’Flaherty, is coming off Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery and won’t be ready until mid-season. In fact, to make room on the roster for Savery, O’Flaherty went on the 60-man disabled list which under baseball rules doesn’t count against the 40-man roster.
In the role of second lefty behind Doolittle until O’Flaherty is ready, Savery will likely compete with another 28-year-old, Fernando Abad, who was 0-3, 3.35 with the Nationals last year. Abad has four years’ worth of experience.
A one-time first-round draft pick of the Phillies (2007), Savery has never had the big career Philadelphia first envisioned for him. But he’s turned into a competent setup reliever and got his first two big league saves last year with the Phillies, where he was 2-0 with a 3.15 ERA.
Curiously, he was much more effective against right-handed batters last year than lefties, righties hitting .118 against him while lefties teed off at .409. Overall the batting average against him was just .205.
The A’s, who had Jerry Blevins in the situational lefty role last year, have two other lefties in camp with possible bullpen aspirations, Drew Pomeranz (on the 40-man roster) and Andrew Werner (non-roster invitee). Both primarily have been starters, and neither of those is seen as a Blevins-type lefty.