Sean Doolittle is feeling at the top of his game and hopes to show it before the year is out.
Sean Doolittle hasn’t enjoyed anything baseball-wise in the last few months as throwing a 26-pitch bullpen before Thursday’s game with the Indians.
The A’s left-handed closer, who has been limited to one game this season between dueling bouts of shoulder pain, took to the bullpen mound down the left field line in the Coliseum.
“I threw everything I have,’’ Doolittle said. “Fastball, slider, changeup. And it felt good. For the majority of it I was throwing about 90 percent, but for the last handful I threw as hard as I possibly could, just to see how my body would feel tomorrow.’’
Manager Bob Melvin said this was the best he’d seen Doolittle throw, better even than when he’d been activated briefly in May.
“The ball had a lot more whip,’’ Melvin said. “His arm was further way from his body. Before I think he was cautious about letting the ball go.
There’s not much that can save Doolittle’s season, but if he could get back on a mound for a game or two, or even more, that would mean he would be able to head into the off-season knowing that he’d been in a game and had competed.
“That’s the goal,’’ Doolittle said. “It would be great to get out there again.’’
Bob Melvin isn’t going to get Doolittle for all that much time, so what the left-hander does statistically isn’t all that important. But the manager said getting past that mental hump of just competing will be important heading to next year.
“`Pitching some this year is psychologically important for him,’’ Melvin said. “It’s one thing to throw in the bullpen. It’s another to get out there and compete.’’
–As currently constituted, the A’s don’t really have backups for shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Eric Sogard, but that could change in the near future.
Tyler Ladendorf began the season in Oakland, got sent down to Triple-A Nashville and almost immediately suffered a left ankle injury. He needed surgery and only recently has been getting some at-bats in Arizona on a rehab assignment.
Ladendorf is a shortstop/second baseman by trade, and he would give the A’s some depth at the position. He made an impression in spring training and likely would have been with the A’s for a sizable chunk of the season had he not suffered the ankle injury.
–Outfielder Jake Smolinski was an infielder in high school and got in some games at second base and third base early in his minor league career, but he’s always been seen as an outfielder.
That perception changed a little Thursday. Coach Ron Washington suggested it was time for Smolinski to take some grounders at first base. Smolinski agreed and went through a grueling 40-minute workout before the A’s came out for batting practice.
“Like everybody, I played infield in high school,’’ Smolinski said. “After I got drafted they moved me to the outfield and I’ve been mostly playing there ever since.
“When Wash came to ask me about first base, I was all for it. Being more versatile will help the team, and it will help me.’’
–Thursday was supposed to be Brandon Moss’s return to the Coliseum, but the Indians traded the former A’s first baseman/outfielder to the St. Louis Cardinals early in the day and he never made it to Oakland.
–Coco Crisp was due to play a full nine-inning game Thursday with Class-A Stockton as part of his injury rehab assignment. He’s scheduled for two more games testing his neck, after which he may be ready to be activated for the first time since May.
–Pat Venditte flew Thursday to join the Nashville Sounds. He’ll pitch for them Friday and Saturday, and could be activated if his right shoulder continues to be sound.
–The three runs Chris Bassitt allowed in the first inning Thursday was more than he’d allowed in any of his previous four starts.