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Sean Doolittle threw his first bullpen session of A’s camp Monday morning, showing that the calf strain that limited him early on is now in the rearview mirror.
“We didn't think it was a problem,” manager Bob Melvin told reporters. “This early in the spring, you always want to be proactive and make sure you give 'em an extra day.”
Fellow reliever Ryan Cook, working through some inflammation in his right shoulder, is playing catch and doing other activities, a sign that he’s on the mend as well.
Other than that, things are progressing as expected for the A’s in the early days of spring training. Position players are beginning to trickle into camp, with the full squad required to report Wednesday.
Melvin said he’s hopeful that his bullpen depth allows him to primarily use closer Jim Johnson for three outs only. If Johnson did have to enter a game in the eighth, “usually closers have that one pitch, and he’s got a sinkerball. So he can keep it on the ground and you can get two outs (with one pitch). You don’t have to just be a strikeout pitcher, and he’s shown that.”
As it stands, Melvin can choose his eighth-inning setup men from a group that includes Cook, Doolittle, newcomer Luke Gregerson and Dan Otero. The manager was asked which of those relievers he would apply the “set-up” label to, if he had to choose right now.
“Those four,” he said with a smile, declining to get more specific. “It’s a nice problem to have with the quality and the depth. We’ll figure it out. Once we get close to leaving here, guys will know when the phone rings, for the most part, who will be getting up at that time.”
Melvin counted Jesse Chavez, A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone and Jarrod Parker as guys who stood out with their mound work Monday. Melvin has emphasized that Milone very much remains in the mix for a rotation spot.
It appears the A’s won’t be holding any intrasquad games before the Feb. 26 exhibition opener against the Giants in Scottsdale.
“We play 162 (games), and 30-some in the spring,” Melvin said, “so it’s more about getting some drills in that we want to focus on before you start playing what is plenty of games.”