SEATTLE – The newest member of the A’s bullpen couldn’t be happier to get his first major league opportunity, while another reliever took a step toward returning to Oakland’s ‘pen.
Angel Castro, promoted to the bigs for the first time at age 32, will serve mainly in long relief unless he’s needed in other roles, manager Bob Melvin said.
Meanwhile, closer Sean Doolittle faced hitters for the first time Friday in his recovery from a slightly torn rotator cuff. The lefty threw strictly fastballs against Max Muncy and Josh Phegley, and Melvin said the adrenaline of adding a hitter in the batter’s box had Doolittle throwing harder than he was during his bullpen sessions.
“He had a lot of zip on his fastball,” Muncy said. “We knew the fastball was coming, and me and Phegley couldn’t get to the ones up top, which is a good thing.”
Melvin said he would have an update on Doolittle’s next step on Saturday, but if his shoulder responds well, a minor league rehab assignment won’t be far off.
As for Castro, he’s traveled a long road since being drafted by Detroit in the 13th round in 2006. He’s pitched for six different organizations – Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, the Angels, St. Louis and now the A’s. His tour included a two-year stint in the Mexican League and a short stop in Japan.
Triple-A Nashville manager Steve Scarsone delivered the good news to Castro in entertaining fashion. The normally low-key Scarsone entered the clubhouse yelling up a storm, then charged into his office and shouted “Castro, get in here!!!”
Then he told the Dominican Republic native that he was going to the majors.
“I never lost faith,” Castro said through interpreter Fernando Rodriguez. “I would pray a lot, kept that faith. Anybody that has faith in something they want to accomplish, it helps out a lot.”
Castro’s fastball gets into the mid-to high 90’s, but he said a difference this year is the improvement with his slider.
The right-hander was a member of the 2013 Dominican Republic squad that won the World Baseball Classic.
“I think it’s amazing,” A’s reliever Evan Scribner said. “I think I persevered through a lot of things to get here. What he persevered through is outrageous.”
-- Second baseman Ben Zobrist is testing his surgically repaired knee by taking dry swings, but he won’t take batting practice until the A’s return home from their current trip.