Oakland A's

A’s Sean Doolittle ‘really close’ to throwing again

Oakland Athletics’ Sean Doolittle in action during spring training Feb. 25, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz.
Oakland Athletics’ Sean Doolittle in action during spring training Feb. 25, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz. The Associated Press

A’s closer Sean Doolittle hasn’t thrown a baseball since reporting to spring training – but he has worked himself into pretty good shape.

“All my down time is in the weight room, doing something to try to stay busy,” Doolittle said. “Sometimes I get bored and just go in there to find something to do.”

Such is life right now for Doolittle, as the left-hander rehabs from a rotator cuff tear and inflammation in his shoulder that was diagnosed in January.

Doolittle will start the season on the disabled list and still doesn’t have a target date to begin throwing, but said Saturday he’s optimistic about the progress he has made in recovery.

“I’m getting really close to throwing,” he said.

Doolittle said he has simulated his throwing motion with a medicine ball in the training room, and he’s close to doing “sock throws,” a last hurdle before picking up a baseball.

He is able to participate in pitcher fielding drills that involve covering bases and shag fly balls in batting practice – he just can’t throw them back.

“It’s really frustrating, really tough,” he said. “For a couple weeks now, my arm feels like it could throw. But we have to make sure that we do the work on the front end to get it strong enough to where it’s ready to throw. We don’t want this to become a chronic thing or something that requires surgery in the future.”

Doolittle signed a five-year contract extension with the A’s last season and said he wants to be able to pitch for as much of it as possible, even if that means taking time to let his shoulder heal now.

Once he is able to throw, he said that doesn’t think he will need a “drawn-out” throwing program to get ready.

Doolittle said he hasn’t discussed a date to start throwing or when he hopes to rejoin the A’s during the season.

Manager Bob Melvin has said there is a “front-runner” for closer while Doolittle is out, but has not revealed a name.

A’s win – Jesse Chavez and Matt Cain both had rocky first innings in Saturday’s Cactus League meeting between the A’s and Giants.

Chavez’s outing got better, while Cain ran into more trouble in the second as the A’s won 5-2 at a sold-out Hohokam Stadium.

“I didn’t make some pitches that I wanted to, had some counts I could have done it in and didn’t do a good job,” said Cain, who gave up four runs in 12/3 innings.

Cain threw about 45 pitches during the stint, and said that he’ll need to pitch into the sixth inning of a spring start to feel ready for the season.

Chavez, meanwhile, allowed two runs in the first inning but no more in his 41/3-inning outing.

The A’s right-hander, who is competing for a rotation spot, said he was speeding up his delivery early but made an adjustment after the first, which allowed him to reach his target of four innings.

Remembering Rosen – The Giants issued a statement Saturday after learning Al Rosen, the 1953 American League MVP who served as Giants president and general manager from 1985-92, had died.

Current President and CEO Larry Baer said in the statement the Giants were “saddened” by the death of Rosen, 91, and that, “We express our deepest condolences to his wife, Rita, and to the rest of his family. … We will miss him and always remember him as part of our very important Giants family.”

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.