A’s closer Tyler Clippard took advantage of Thursday’s off-day to cross an item off his recreational bucket list: Playing the golf course at Pebble Beach.
“I’ve been wanting to get out there for a long time,” Clippard said. “I was thrilled.”
This, however, was not a case of some wide-eyed beginner hacking his way across one of the country’s most famous courses. Clippard posted a photo of his scorecard on Twitter and confirmed Friday that he shot a 72 from Pebble’s blue tees: Even par.
Asked about his handicap, Clippard said: "It’s a zero."
Clippard said he plays golf "three, four times a week" during the offseason. He started to swing a club when he was nine years old, and was a pretty serious golfer in high school. In fact, Clippard was a first-team selection to the 2001 All-Sunshine Athletic Conference boys’ golf team while at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla.
Between his sophomore and junior years of high school, though, Clippard said he "went from like 5-foot-7 to 6-foot-1" -- and the results showed up on the radar gun in baseball. By the end of his junior year, Clippard was throwing 88-89 miles per hour, and that had jumped to 90-91 by the start of his senior year.
Clippard was drafted by the New York Yankees out of high school in 2003, but he didn’t give up golfing, at least as a hobby. Of the courses he’s played, he considers Pine Valley in New Jersey his favorite, with Merion in Pennsylvania and (now) Pebble Beach also up there. Topping his list of places still to play is Augusta, site of the Masters.
At Pebble, Clippard said his favorite hole was the iconic Par-5 on No. 18. "It’s such an historic hole,” he said. “I’ve played it on video games, seen it on TV, and you get up there and you’re like, ‘Man.’ It’s really cool."
Even better: Clippard needed to birdie the hole to make par for the course -- and did.
* The A’s lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox:
And the White Sox lineup against A’s right-hander Jesse Hahn:
You’ll notice that A.L. RBI leader Stephen Vogt is sitting against White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon. Vogt did not start Wednesday, either, against a left-hander, and of course was off Thursday. Melvin was asked about that and did not give an explanation.
"Usually I explain these things," Melvin said. "He’s just not in the lineup tonight."
* Sean Doolittle made his first rehab appearance in a game Thursday at High-A Stockton and it was a mixed bag. Doolittle threw one inning and allowed hits, both solo home runs. But he came out of it feeling good.
"It was the first time I’ve had to sit around in the bullpen before I warmed up to throw," Doolittle said. "That was another mini-test I felt I had to pass and everything there went great.
"Results-wise, yeah, I’m not happy about the home runs. But this is still a point in the process where you have to be really process-oriented, not as much results-driven, and I was happy with the way that I threw and the way that I felt."
Doolittle will pitch again Sunday for Stockton. He threw 12 pitches on Thursday night, but said he’d thrown "probably far too many" while warming up -- the Ports had a long offensive half-inning before he entered the game -- so he got stretched out beyond what 12 pitches would suggest. Doolittle said threw mostly fastballs, but also threw one slider and one changeup that were both called strikes.
* Second baseman Ben Zobrist went through a full pre-game workout with ground balls and batting practice. Melvin said the A’s will "pretty soon decide when he’s ready to go out on a rehab." A few days ago, Melvin said that Zobrist (recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery) could start a rehab assignment when the A’s start their road trip Monday.
* The A’s announced today’s they reinstated left-hander Sean Nolin from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Nashville. Nolin, who was acquired in the Josh Donaldson trade with Toronto, was supposed to compete for a rotation spot but missed most of the spring following sports hernia surgery.
"This is a guy that was an important guy in that trade, too," Melvin said. "Now he’s just a full-go and the training wheels are off, (except for) getting his pitch count up where we want. But at some point in time he becomes an option for us, whether it’s in the bullpen or in a starting role."