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OAKLAND – The A’s are still playing the waiting game with several injured players, but a couple of their cornerstone pieces are making significant progress.
Closer Sean Doolittle threw off the mound Tuesday for the first time since tearing his rotator cuff in January. Several members of the front office, including general manager Billy Beane, watched Doolittle’s 21-pitch session, which featured solely fastballs.
“It feels really good to have that step under my belt now, getting off mound and having it go well. It felt really good,” Doolittle said. “This is technically the beginning of my spring training, and if I had thrown this bullpen in early February, I would have been very pleased with how things went. The ball was coming out clean, I was around the zone.”
Doolittle estimates he would throw at least a couple more bullpen sessions before facing hitters and eventually heading out on a rehab assignment. Manager Bob Melvin has mentioned late May as a ballpark timeframe for Doolittle’s return, but it depends on how quickly the lefty can move from one step to the next.
“It’s how he feels each and every time,” Melvin said, “whether he has to throw four bullpens or whatever before he starts to throw to hitters. Our training staff is pretty good about monitoring how a guy feels. My guess is it won’t be a complete spring training (time period), but we’ll see.”
Left fielder Coco Crisp, recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, said he’s slightly ahead of schedule in his recovery. The switch hitter took soft-toss swings and hit off a tee – 40 swings total from each side. Melvin mentioned Friday as a possible day for Crisp to take full batting practice.
In the past, Crisp generally has preferred to skip a rehab assignment and just rejoin the lineup when coming off an injury.This time it’s different. He collected just 15 at-bats in spring training, so he said he’s unsure how many minor league games he might require. But he’ll play those rehab games with Single-A Stockton.
On Friday, the Ports begin a stretch of 17 consecutive games played locally – 14 in Stockton and three at San Jose – and Crisp said the plan is for him to join the Ports sometime during that stretch. He doesn’t know at what point it will be yet.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to feel good, because I had a very small amount of at-bats at spring training,” Crisp said. “As far as coming back quick, hopefully, but I don’t know. I don’t know how many games I’ll need to get my timing back.”
In other injury news, right-hander A.J. Griffin threw 2 1/3 innings at extended spring training Monday and was at the Coliseum on Tuesday. The A’s want to watch Griffin throw off the mound Wednesday, then he’ll return to Arizona on Thursday and continue throwing in simulated games.
Griffin, sporting a new mustache, said he’s coming along very well and was happy to see his A’s teammates for a couple days.
Jesse Hahn, recovered from a blister on his throwing hand, will return to the rotation Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels. Jesse Chavez, taking Kendall Graveman’s place in the rotation, will pitch Thursday against the Angels and Scott Kazmir will go Friday in the road trip opener at Texas. Kazmir will be going on six days’ rest, and though Melvin said the team looks to Kazmir extra rest at any opportunity, it’s also worth noting that the lefty is 2-5 with a 7.56 ERA in seven career starts against the Angels. So that could be a factor in pushing him back to open the Rangers series instead.