For most of his big league career, Sean Doolittle has come out of the A’s bullpen to the sounds of Metallica playing “For Whom The Bell Tolls.’’
When he return to the A’s by walking from the bullpen to the mound to start the seventh inning Monday, it was still Metallica, but this time the song was “Disposable Heroes.’’
None of which seemed to matter to a crowd of 18,149 who’ve been waiting since June to see Doolittle, the one-time A’s closer, on the mound again.
“It was definitely an adrenalin rush,’’ Doolittle said. “I really appreciated the ovation from the crowd. That gave me goose bumps, for sure.’’
Doolittle said he wasn’t sure how the fans who have been used to the same walk in music for the better part of five years would adjust. He needn’t have worried.
“I was wondering how it was going to go over,’’ Doolittle said. “I know some people are pretty attached to it. I kept the same band from the same era. But it was a song I was listening to a lot while I was on the rehab assignment. I liked it, so I switched it.
“It’s kind of a new chapter I guess.’’
Doolittle could use a new chapter. He spent most of the 2015 season on the disabled list, and after pitching for the better part of three months this season, he went 59 games and 72 days without pitching with an Oakland uniform on.
That made his return Monday special.
“I thought it was pretty normal,’’ Doolittle said. “I thought I did a pretty good job of controlling my energy level.
“I felt really good about things. I was very pleased with the way the ball was coming out and I felt mechanically that’s the best I’ve felt throughout this whole process, coming back. I’m very pleased with it.’’
Doolittle, battling shoulder strain issues since late June, surprised manager Bob Melvin with not just the life his fastball showed, but the velocity.
“It’s amazing what adrenalin can do,’’ Melvin said. “We were getting reports of 92, maybe he hit 93 once. And then I looked out there toward the end of the outing and it was 95 plus.
“He used his secondary pitches too, that’s something he was working on when he was getting ready to come back here, too, and that will help him out as well.’’
The A’s are likely to take it easy with Doolittle for now, giving him perhaps a day off after every game he pitches as they point toward having him healthy next season.
The A’s have a core of relievers under contract for next year, including Doolittle, Ryan Madson and John Axford. And reliable rookie Ryan Dull is under club control for another five seasons.