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Doolittle eager to get game under his belt

March 13, 2017

MESA, Ariz. -- Sean Doolittle has maintained all spring that his arm and shoulder feel great. Which makes the fact that he has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game a little frustrating at times.That ends Tuesday, when the A's left-hander will make his spring debut against the visiting

MESA, Ariz. -- Sean Doolittle has maintained all spring that his arm and shoulder feel great. Which makes the fact that he has yet to pitch in a Cactus League game a little frustrating at times.
That ends Tuesday, when the A's left-hander will make his spring debut against the visiting Rockies at 1:05 PT.
"I'm excited about pitching in a game and facing hitters from another team, something different than our own guys," said Doolittle, who has been limited to live batting practice sessions and simulated games on the team's backfields. "We're a little more than two weeks away from starting the season so it's time to start ramping it up. I'm ready to go."
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Doolittle was an All-Star closer in 2014, but he missed two months last season with a shoulder injury and most of the 2015 season with multiple injuries. The A's chose to take it slow with Doolittle entering this season.
That's been tough at times, because Doolittle said he's felt great.
"If you're not feeling good, then you understand you have work to do," he said. "But physically, I've felt able to pitch in games for a while now. But I think if we're being realistic about it, this program gives me the best chance to come into the season healthy, and continue to get stronger as the season goes on.
"You want to be out there getting ready with the rest of the guys, out there on the field with the team during games. But you also know it's for the best. It's in my best interest to work a little smarter this spring, and stick to this program. Fortunately, it seems like it's working."
As much as a one-inning outing can be for a healthy veteran, Doolittle still called Tuesday's appearance a big one. Manager Bob Melvin didn't necessarily agree, but appreciates Doolittle's commitment.
"Certain guys get motivated certain ways," Melvin said. "First time out there, I'm sure is a little different for him, so if he wants to call it a big day, that's fine. If he doesn't perform well I wouldn't consider it a knock on him. I like the fact that he takes it seriously."
Likewise, Doolittle won't analyze his results much.
"It would be great if I strike out the side on nine pitches, but it's my first time in game action, so I'm trying to stay more focused on the preparation and the process of getting ready for the regular season," Doolittle said. "It will be good barometer of where I'm at."

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Athletics on Monday.