Doolittle 'stoked' to be back with Nationals

November 8th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Jessica Camerato’s Nationals Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Sean Doolittle’s season ended early, with uncertainty as to where he would pitch in 2023. His offseason began with the certainty that he'll be rejoining the Nationals. 

Washington’s first offseason move on Sunday was signing Doolittle to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training. 

The 36-year-old southpaw reliever was sidelined by a left UCL injury after he'd tossed six scoreless appearances across 5 1/3 innings. In late July he opted for an internal brace procedure over Tommy John surgery for a shorter recovery time. 

“In true extremely introvert fashion, I’m so excited to be staying home,” Doolittle tweeted. “I’ve been making really good progress coming back from elbow surgery. I feel like I have a lot to prove -- mostly to myself -- and I’m so stoked to have a chance to wear the Curly W again.”

Doolittle, who lives in Washington, remained a mainstay in the Nationals' clubhouse while he rehabbed. 

“He’s been great, he really has,” manager Dave Martinez said in September. “He’s got a lot to share and, as you know, he’s not afraid to share it. It’s good to have him around. He’s upbeat all the time, he talks to all the young players, he talks to our veteran players, and I love having him.”

Doolittle’s 11 years of experience and helpful nature were invaluable to a pitching staff that was hampered by injuries. Among those pitchers is 24-year-old right-hander Cade Cavalli, who was placed on the IL with inflammation in his right shoulder after making his Major League debut.

“He’s a brilliant guy,” Cavalli said of Doolittle in September. “There’s always little nuggets that you can gain from him, just talking to him, having a normal conversation. … He was pretty much saying, ‘Don’t get outside yourself, stay in control,’ and it was good, it was a good message.”

Doolittle has appeared in 153 games for Washington over five seasons. He is 10-10 with a 2.92 ERA and 75 saves across 148 innings.

“Before he got hurt, he was doing unbelievable in a role that was very important to us,” Martinez said in September. “So hopefully he can come back, and we’ll see what happens next spring.”