Shoulder better, Doolittle activated off DL
OAKLAND -- The A's added left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle to the active roster for the first time this year Tuesday and optioned right-hander Angel Castro to Triple-A Nashville.
Doolittle injured his shoulder in early January and sat out all of Spring Training after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma injection procedure. After making five rehab appearances between May 14 and Sunday, Doolittle has been cleared to return to the mound for Oakland.
"I'm excited to get back and contribute," Doolittle said. "I've been watching these guys work their butts off for two months. The last three or four games they've been playing really well. Now, my job is to just not [mess] that up and keep that momentum going."
A's manager Bob Melvin has made it clear that Doolittle will be eased into the bullpen after establishing himself as a dominant closer last season. Doolittle is in no rush to get back to his ninth-inning duties.
"I'm not thinking about roles or anything like that," Doolittle said. "I'll just be ready when the phone rings, and hopefully I pitch well enough to get back in that conversation."
For now, Melvin said he wants to use Doolittle in lower pressure situations while keeping Tyler Clippard in the closer's role. Eventually, Melvin said he envisions Doolittle, Clippard and Evan Scribner holding down the responsibilities at the back end of the bullpen.
Much of Doolittle's success has been due to his blazing fastball, his go-to pitch that usually sits at about 94 mph when healthy. But the southpaw conceded he's not quite where he was last year, and that the velocity will likely come with time.
"Over the last three outings, it's starting to creep up a little bit," Doolittle said. "The main thing is that life and that deception is back on the ball. When I have that, I can get guys out."
Doolittle recorded 22 saves and posted a 2.73 ERA in 61 games last year. In his five innings of rehab work, he allowed five earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out five. Despite the subpar numbers, Doolittle said he feels confident in his ability to get people out at the big league level.
The 28-year-old said he also took advantage of the time to help refine his changeup and slider, but he added he won't be making any major overhauls to his pitching style.
"We're not going to reinvent the wheel," Doolittle said. "Everybody knows that I'm not going to go up there and start flipping knuckleballs and spitballs up there."