OAKLAND – Sean Doolittle’s first minor league rehab game will come Thursday at Single-A Stockton, as the A’s closer begins the final step in his journey back to the active roster.
Manager Bob Melvin isn’t saying how many minor league outings Doolittle will require before coming off the disabled list. He’s been sidelined all season to this point by a slightly torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. Doolittle’s comeback has gone very well so far, and that’s encouraging for an A’s team whose bullpen struggles have contributed mightily to its American League-worst 12-22 record.
Another injured pitcher, A.J. Griffin, was set to play catch before Tuesday’s game after seeing a doctor Monday, Melvin said. Indications are that Griffin’s shoulder issue may be a case of tendinitis but not anything major, though the A’s have been light on specifics regarding his condition.
That relatively positive outlook is refreshing news for the A’s given that Jarrod Parker recently suffered a major setback in his recovery from elbow surgery. He’ll visit specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday to be examined.
Reliever Eric O’Flaherty also saw a doctor Monday for his shoulder issue, and Melvin said there was a tentative plan for him to play catch Tuesday as well.
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With Ike Davis day-to-day with a left quad strain, Max Muncy gets a chance to return to his original position. Muncy is in the lineup at first base Tuesday night against the Red Sox. The rookie began working across the diamond some at third base last year while with Double-A Midland and played third all through spring training. His playing time has come sparingly during his first big league call-up, but he’s turned in some impressive at-bats off the bench and is hitting .286 in 10 games overall.
Muncy made a great diving catch of Mike Napoli’s liner Monday night after replacing Davis, who hurt himself running out a double in the fourth inning. Melvin was expecting Davis might be available to pinch hit Tuesday, depending on how he came out of pregame activity.
As for Muncy, Melvin has been impressed.
“For a guy used to playing every day in the minor leagues, and it’s tougher for younger players to keep themselves ready when they’re not playing everyday, he’s found a way to keep himself ready,” Melvin said. “He’s taking extra batting practice, cage work all the time. His at-bats seem to be sound no matter how many days he’s had off.”
Trying to stress defensive improvement, the A’s held a regular infield workout before Tuesday’s game, rather than the standard drill of just squeezing in grounders during batting practice. The infielders were spread out at their positions getting work before the batting cage was even brought on the field.
The A’s enter Tuesday’s game leading the majors with 34 errors, which is seven more than the next closest teams (Cubs and Brewers).