Nats hire All-Star and WS champ Doolittle as pitching strategist

January 16th, 2024

WASHINGTON – When left-hander announced his retirement late last September, he wasn’t ready to walk away from the game completely.

“I might be done playing baseball,” Doolittle said at a press conference at Nationals Park. “But I’m not sure if I’m done with baseball.”

He isn’t.

The Nationals announced Tuesday that Doolittle is joining their staff as a pitching strategist. The 11-year Major League veteran and two-time All-Star will serve as a liaison between the pitching staff and the analytics department. Doolittle, 37, also will assist manager Dave Martinez and pitching coach Jim Hickey with mental preparation, strategy and mechanics.

“Sean Doolittle was always an extremely talented pitcher, but he is also one of the most intelligent baseball minds you can find,” general manager Mike Rizzo said in a statement. “We’re incredibly excited to have him on our staff to help guide our talented group of young pitchers.”

Doolittle pitched five seasons for the Nationals (2017-20, ‘22), as well as the Athletics (2012-16), Reds (‘21) and Mariners (‘21). He went 26-24 with a 3.20 ERA and 112 saves in 450 2/3 innings across his career. Doolittle ranks third in Nats team history (2005-present) with 75 saves and 13th with 153 relief appearances (second most by a Washington pitcher since 2017).

“I can’t thank the Lerner family, Mike Rizzo and Davey Martinez enough for all they’ve done for me and my family,” Doolittle said in a statement. “I love the Nationals and Washington, D.C., and look forward to this new challenge while remaining an active member of an organization that means so much to me.”

After playing a key role on the 2019 World Series team, Doolittle returned to the Nationals but battled his health. While rehabbing from a left elbow injury on a Minor League deal last season, he sustained a partial tear of the patellar tendon in his right knee in late June. Doolittle was determined to continue pitching as long as he could, including daily work with a mental skills coach, but he found out his knee, as he described, “already was too torn up for the cleanup surgery.”

Even while sidelined, Doolittle made an impact as a veteran leader at Nats Park and at the training complex in West Palm Beach, Fla. His influence was demonstrated when pitchers Kyle Finnegan, Josiah Gray, Hunter Harvey, Tanner Rainey, Thaddeus Ward and Trevor Williams attended his pregame retirement press conference.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do in his next venture; I could see him being a mayor or something like that,” Martinez said with a laugh at the time. “But I asked him already if he’d ever want to be in baseball, I’d love to have him around. … Overall, he did some amazing things, and he leaves this game as a champion. I’m proud of him.”

Doolittle won’t have to relocate for his new job – he already became a Washington, D.C., resident. An involved member in the community during his playing career, he was a 2020 Roberto Clemente Award nominee and was named a ‘22 Washingtonian of the Year.

“You’re stuck with us,” Doolittle said in September.