Oakland A's

A’s Sean Doolittle (shoulder) clears ‘hurdle’ by throwing off mound

FILE - In this July 23, 2014, file photo, Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sean Doolittle throws to the Houston Astros during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Oakland.
FILE - In this July 23, 2014, file photo, Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sean Doolittle throws to the Houston Astros during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Oakland. AP

A’s closer Sean Doolittle cleared a significant hurdle in his recovery from his shoulder injury by throwing off of a mound for the first time before the A’s played the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Doolittle, who is recovering from a slight labrum tear, threw 21 pitches off the mound -- all fastballs -- and said the session went "really well."

"I feel like I’ve continued to get stronger and build up the strength and endurance in the shoulder," Doolittle said. "Today feels really good to have that hurdle, that step under my belt now. Having it go well felt really good."

As steps go, Doolittle likened this to a first bullpen session in spring training. He likely will throw several more before facing hitters, and he and manager Bob Melvin said there is no target date for that yet. Doolittle said he has been on an "accelerated" version of his off-season throwing program, but on the other hand the A’s don’t want to rush him back and risk a set-back or having the shoulder become a chronic issue.

Still, Doolittle said he’s throwing at "pretty close" to maximum effort. And he was happy Tuesday with his location, and his ability to make adjustments after a bad pitch. He threw only fastballs off the mound, but said he also threw some sliders off of flat ground.

"Sometimes you can tell if a guy’s guarding a certain area, whether he’s short-arming or doing whatever, and that wasn’t the case," Melvin said. "So he has a reason to feel good."

"It was a really good first day," Doolittle said.

* Coco Crisp issued an injury update of his own Tuesday afternoon: Crisp posted a picture of himself smiling on Instagram with the caption: "Just received good news, looks like I’ll be rehabbing with the Stockton Ports during their up coming home stand."

"That’s what I heard," Melvin said when asked about it before the game. "If I read my tweets right."

Melvin did confirm that barring any setbacks, Crisp will likely take live batting practice Friday for the first time since surgery earlier this month to remove bone spurs from his elbow. After a couple of BP sessions, the next step would be a minor-league rehab stint.

Crisp has eschewed rehab assignments in the past, but acknowledged one would probably be beneficial this time given his layoff and his missing most of spring training.

"As far as coming back quick, hopefully," Crisp said. "But I don’t know how many games I’ll need to get my timing back."

Melvin said Crisp always "seems to be able to bounce back quickly," but that, "a couple games will serve him well … You want to make sure you’re not putting anything else in jeopardy – want to make sure he runs the bases, steals a base or two, or at least attempts to, and does all the things over a course of a game that he normally would."

* Right-hander A.J. Griffin, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, joined the A’s at the Coliseum on Tuesday and sounded optimistic about his progress.

Griffin is rehabbing at extended spring training in Arizona and threw 25 pitches in a simulated game setting Monday, which he said "went well." He’s in Oakland to throw a bullpen session for A’s staff on Wednesday so Melvin and others can get a "first-hand look at him."

"Make sure the arm slot is the same, look at his stuff," Melvin said. "It’s nice we can bring him in here and not have to just go on reports.

Griffin said he is throwing his fastball, changeup and curveball, but is waiting to mix in his cutter, which puts more stress on his elbow. He was sporting a fairly full mustache that was a new feature since spring training.

"I gotta have something to do out in Arizona," Griffin said.

* Jesse Hahn has a handle on the blister on his right middle finger that caused him to miss his last start, and will return to the rotation Wednesday. The A’s rotation out of the offday Monday goes: Sonny Gray, Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Scott Kazmir, Drew Pomeranz.

Sliding Chavez in Thursday gives Kazmir an extra day of rest, about which Melvin said: "Any time we can give him an extra day, we’re going to do it."

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

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