A's spring training Day 29: Given green light, Doolittle's debut goes smoothly

A's spring training Day 29: Given green light, Doolittle's debut goes smoothly

MESA, Ariz. — After a delayed start to his spring, A’s reliever Sean Doolittle hopes he can hit the accelerator leading up to Opening Night.

The lefty turned in a 1-2-3 inning Tuesday against Colorado in his Cactus League debut. Having been held back from game action as a precaution, due to two seasons of shoulder problems, Doolittle said trainers have given him the green light to proceed without restrictions.

“I was told I’m normal now — take the training wheels completely off,” Doolittle said after a 4-3 loss to the Rockies.

He added that he thinks five or six outings in Arizona, with the possibility of a couple more in the Bay Bridge Series, should have him ready for Opening Night.

“I feel like my delivery is relatively low maintenance, and I do enough work on the side,” Doolittle said. “Mechanically, I’ll be ready.”

All three outs came through the air — two fly outs and a liner to left. Doolittle threw just one off-speed pitch, a changeup, but said he’ll weave the pitch in more as he gets more outings under his belt.

With Santiago Casilla having made his spring debut Sunday, all of the A’s front-line relievers now have at least one game under their belt. Ryan Madson and John Axford each threw scoreless innings Tuesday, a good sign for Oakland as both veterans experienced a bit of turbulence in early outings.

STOCK FALLING: Daniel Coulombe has a chance to join Doolittle as a second lefty in the bullpen, but he’s struggled to this point in exhibitions. Coulombe was charged with all four runs as the Rockies rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the top of the ninth to steal one from the A’s. He also issued two walks in 1 1/3 innings.

“He’s had a tough spring. especially to left-handers,” Melvin acknowledged. “We expect him to get the left-handers out, and not only have they been hitting him, they’ve been doing some damage too. So he’s gotta tighten that up a little bit.”

Six spots in the bullpen are locked down with Axford, Casilla, Doolittle, Ryan Dull, Liam Hendriks and Madson. In all likelihood the A’s would want another lefty, whether it’s Coulombe or perhaps someone with long-relief potential such as Ross Detwiler. If the A’s carry just four outfielders, they could actually take eight relievers if they desire, which would allow them to keep Raul Alcantara, who is out of minor league options.

NOTEWORTHY: Sean Manaea went 3 2/3 innings and held the Rockies off the board despite giving up seven hits. He was displeased with his slider and fastball command, and it took some good defense — and head-scratching Rockies base running — to help him escape the first unscored upon.

Third baseman Matt Chapman cut down a runner at home with men on the corners and one out. Then first baseman Yonder Alonso made a heads-up play to catch Trevor Story in a rundown after Story unwisely rounded third and broke for home on Stephen Cardello’s infield single.

ODDS AND ENDS: Colorado’s tying and go-ahead runs scored against Kyle Finnegan, who relieved Coulombe in the ninth. Finnegan had done a nice job coming over from minor league camp and nailing down a victory earlier this spring. … With the A’s off Wednesday, Jharel Cotton will pitch in a Triple-A game against the Cubs.

 

Vogt has that 'rejuvenation feeling' going from A's to first-place Brewers

Vogt has that 'rejuvenation feeling' going from A's to first-place Brewers

After five seasons in Oakland, Stephen Vogt begins a new chapter of his career in Milwaukee.

The 32-year-old was designated for assignment by the last-place A's on Thursday and claimed by the first-place Brewers on Sunday.

On Monday, the two-time All-Star catcher discussed his new opportunity with a contender on MLB Network Radio.

"Obviously I was ecstatic to hear I was headed to Milwaukee. We all watch baseball and they are such a fun team to watch right now. And your buddy Eric Sogard is there, so I've got some familiarity. It's an opportunity to win and I think anybody, when you get to the stage I'm in in my career, where I'm 32, I want to win. I'm at the point where that's kind of the goal in the big leagues where all you care about is winning and that's where I'm at. So, to get the news that I'm headed to a first-place team, I couldn't be more excited," Vogt said.

After making the AL All-Star team the last two seasons, Vogt struggled to the tune of a .217 batting average with four home runs and 20 RBI in 54 games.

But with a new team in a new league comes a fresh slate.

"You get that rejuvenation feeling, you get that feeling that this is the change you needed especially going to a winning team where when you're winning, everyone plays better, when you're winning, everyones happier. No matter where you are in life, you want to have that feeling that somebody wants you. So to have Milwaukee come in and say 'We wanted you,' Yeah, it recharged the batteries. I'm ready to go," Vogt said.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's first road sweep of 2017

BOX SCORE

The A’s sprung to life offensively in the late innings Sunday and polished off their first road sweep of 2017.

They scored all five of their runs over the final three innings to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3, continuing an odd stretch of streakiness. The A’s swept the New York Yankees in four at the Coliseum, then turned around and dropped four in a row to the Houston Astros before arriving in Chicago and taking all three from the Sox. It’s their first sweep on the road since they won four in Kansas City from Sept. 12-15 of last season.

The weekend’s events provided a morale boost for a team that began the series an American League-worst 9-25 away from home. The sweep also featured numerous contributions from a pack of recently promoted young players fresh from the minors.

The A’s had no answer for left-hander Derek Holland through six-plus innings, mustering just four hits off the veteran. But trailing 2-0, they got on the board with Jed Lowrie’s pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh. The next inning, Khris Davis singled home the tying run and Yonder Alonso followed with a go-ahead single down the left-field line to put the A’s up 3-2.

They tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers from Adam Rosales and Matt Joyce.

Sonny rebounds: Sonny Gray (3-3) avoided the early trouble that plagued his last start, working seven innings and being rewarded with a victory thanks to the A’s eighth-inning rally. He struck out seven and walked just one. That was a key as Gray had issued seven free passes combined in his previous two starts. Adam Engel hit a 2-1 fastball for a homer in the third, then Jose Abreu scored on a passed ball in the fourth to give Chicago a 2-0 lead. But Gray held the Sox to just four hits over his seven innings.

Sign of things to come? Franklin Barreto got a look as the No. 2 hitter in the order Sunday, a spot that some scouts feel he’ll be well suited for as his career unfolds. He singled to the opposite field in his first at-bat, then struck out looking in his next two trips to the plate. In the eighth, his broken-bat single to left jumpstarted Oakland’s two-run go-ahead rally. Barreto is 4-for-10 in his first two games with the big club.

Joyce provides a lift off the bench: Joyce entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and connected for his 10th homer, right after Rosales had gone deep himself. Joyce became the fourth Athletic to crack double figures in homers, and the A’s improved to 31-26 when they hit at least one home run (they’re 3-16 when they don’t).

Doo does it again: Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle continued to deal since coming off the disabled list. He threw a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts and has allowed just one hit over five innings in six appearances since his return.

An unwanted milestone: The Sox scored their second run on a passed ball by Josh Phegley, which accounted for Oakland’s 50th unearned run, most in the majors. They had just 43 unearned runs all of last season.