MESA, Ariz. -- Another A’s player is making a serious run to be the "Face of MLB."
This spring it’s closer Sean Doolittle, who has made it to the final four of the “Face of MLB” contest created by the MLB Network and voted on by fans. In a juicy semifinal pitting the Bay Area squads, Doolittle will face Giants catcher Buster Posey.
You’ll remember that last spring it was unheralded second baseman Eric Sogard who made a surprising run to the final round of “Face of MLB.” He upset Posey along the way before falling to Mets third baseman David Wright in the championship. Wright is back in the semifinals this year and will face either the Orioles’ Adam Jones or the Indians’ Corey Kluber.
Oakland fans have rallied behind Doolittle with a Twitter frenzy much as they did Sogard, photo-shopping Doolittle’s mug into a variety of famous pop culture scenes.
“I lead a much more interesting life on Twitter thanks to those photoshops,” Doolittle said Thursday. "The fans have gone all-out for all the rounds so far. Going against a cross-town rival, hopefully they’ve got some creative stuff left and haven’t used all their bullets.”
Teammate Stephen Vogt offered his good-natured take on the matchup.
“No disrespect to Buster Posey, but Sean Doolittle has the face of MLB. The beard, the glove up underneath the chin. Sean Doolittle embodies what is Major League Baseball.”
Doolittle always flashes a sharp wit on Twitter, but the contest has drawn his girlfriend, Eireann Dolan, into the spotlight as well. While Doolittle was doing an on-camera interview inside the A’s clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium on Thursday morning, Dolan was conducting her own phone interview with the MLB Network and dishing some dirt on Doolittle.
The more pressing issue for the All-Star closer, of course, is the labrum tear in his left shoulder that he’s recovering from. Doolittle had an ultrasound last week that showed he’s making good progress in his comeback. He has yet to start throwing, and even though he suspects the A’s training staff has a throwing schedule in mind, he’s instructed trainers not to share it with him. He wants to take things one day at a time so as not to be disappointed if he doesn’t hit a predetermined target date.
“As long as I’m making progress, I’m happy,” he said.
The A’s haven’t said anything publicly about his timetable for return, other than they expect him to miss the start of the regular season.