OAKLAND -– It was an eventful start to Sean Doolittle’s rehab assignment, as the A’s closer struck out two and allowed two home runs Thursday for Single-A Stockton against High Desert.
“Results-wise, I’m not happy about the home runs,” Doolittle said Friday. “But this is still a point in the process where you have to be really process-oriented, not as much results-driven. I was happy with the way I threw and the way I felt.”
Doolittle, coming back from a shoulder injury that’s sidelined him all season, is still getting accustomed to the little things. Thursday’s game was the first time he sat down in the bullpen and watched a game before entering. In his previous throwing sessions, he’d gone straight from throwing long toss to hitting the mound to begin his warm-ups.
It’s all helping him get acclimated as he works toward a return that could come by early June, if not the end of this month. He’ll pitch again for Stockton on Sunday. The A’s also want Doolittle to pitch on back-to-back days in the minors before he’s activated.
“In hindsight, I probably threw way too many pitches in the bullpen,” Doolittle said of Thursday’s outing. “The guys had a long inning, pushed a few runs across. There was a pitching change. So I think I might have left some bullets down there.”
Doolittle liked the fact that he got some swings and misses with his fastball, “which told me it still had that life that was there -- some of that deception.”
He threw one slider and one changeup, both for called strikes. The homers came on fastballs, the first on a 2-0 count and the next on an 0-1 count.
“All in all, the most important thing is his shoulder felt fine and he felt fine about it,” manager Bob Melvin said.
In other injury news, second baseman Ben Zobrist continues to take batting practice, and he was scheduled for a full pregame workout Friday. Still no word on when Zobrist, coming off arthroscopic left knee surgery, will begin a rehab assignment. But it will likely happen during the A’s next road trip that begins Monday.
** Friday’s lineup included Josh Phegley at catcher and not Stephen Vogt, the American League’s RBI leader. That was somewhat surprising since the A’s were coming off a day off Thursday, and Melvin had mentioned earlier in the homestand that Vogt has played his way into more of an everyday role.
Vogt was in full gear during batting practice and doing catching drills in the bullpen, so it didn’t appear to be an injury issue. More than likely, it had to do with the fact the Chicago White Sox are starting left-hander Carlos Rodon, and the A’s organizational philosophy still leans heavily on platooning players to get favorable hitting matchups.