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.

 

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

Manaea felt 'little sharp pain', but status of shoulder not immediately known

ANAHEIM — Sean Manaea is hopeful his left shoulder injury isn’t serious, but the A’s likely won’t have a full read on the starter’s condition for a couple days.

As of Wednesday night, no MRI was scheduled after Manaea left after just two innings of an eventual 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels with tightness in his shoulder.

“I felt it a little bit in the bullpen,” Manaea said. “I thought it was just one of those days where it took me longer to warm up, and that just wasn’t the case. It’s just really unfortunate.”

Just as the A’s are about to welcome Kendall Graveman back to the active roster Thursday, when he starts the series finale at Angel Stadium, and just as it appears Sonny Gray might be ready to come off the disabled list following one more rehab start, the A’s are hoping they don’t see Manaea subtracted from their rotation for any period of time.

Manager Bob Melvin said it was the top of Manaea’s shoulder that was bothering him.

“The velo was down, and it didn’t make sense to have him keep pitching,” Melvin said. “But we won’t know anything probably for a day or two, how he feels.”

Once he started throwing in the game, Manaea said he felt “kind of a little sharp pain. I mean, it’s nothing serious. I’ve dealt with it before and it only took me a few days to get back on the mound. To me, I’m not really worried about it.”

The pitcher added that he experienced a similar situation with his shoulder while a minor leaguer in Kansas City’s organization, toward the end of spring training, and he missed minimal time.

Things didn’t get better for the A’s (10-11) after Manaea exited, as they struck out 13 times and played sloppy defensively in dropping their third in a row. Catcher Stephen Vogt couldn’t handle Ryan Dull’s glove flip to the plate on a seventh-inning squeeze play, ending a streak of six errorless games for Oakland, but Melvin can live with occasional physical misplays. More problematic were occasions when right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker both seemed caught by surprise to see Angels runners take off for an extra base. Whether it was a lack of communication from infielders or the outfielders themselves needing to be more aware, the A’s can’t afford those kinds of mistakes.

“As a group, we can’t let that happen,” Melvin said. “We talk about it in advance meetings the way these guys run the bases. It’s not something we can do and expect to beat this team.”

Added Vogt: “We were on our heels quite a bit. This was obviously not the prettiest baseball game we’ve played.”

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

Instant Replay: Manaea hurt in A's 8-5 loss to Angels

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – The A’s endured one of those nights Wednesday when the scoreboard couldn’t convey the extent of their blues.

The tone of an 8-5 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels was set early, when starting pitcher Sean Manaea left after two innings with what was announced as tightness in his throwing shoulder.

From there, things gradually unraveled as the A’s lost their third in a row and took on what looks to be another injury to a key player. The seriousness of Manaea’s injury wasn’t immediately known, but his early exit added to the recent run of medical misfortune, as center fielder Rajai Davis, shortstop Marcus Semien and starter Kendall Graveman have all hit the disabled list over the past 12 days.

Graveman will be activated Thursday and start against the Angels, but Manaea’s condition will loom large as the 25-year-old lefty is considered a foundation piece for the A’s, now and for the future.

The A’s trailed 4-3 in the seventh when the Angels pulled away with four runs off Ryan Dull. Matt Joyce’s two-run homer in the eighth pulled them closer but they lost for the second night in a row at Angel Stadium and will have to win Thursday night to avoid a sweep. Wednesday’s loss dropped them back below .500 at 10-11.

Starting pitching report:
It was obvious early that something was bothering Manaea. His fastball, which usually sits in the low 90’s and gets into the mid-90’s, was hovering in the 88-89 range. The A’s led 2-0 before the Angels struck for three runs in the second. Danny Espinosa and Martin Maldonado each delivered RBI doubles that landed just past the diving reach of right fielder Matt Joyce and center fielder Jaff Decker, respectively. Another run scored on Cameron Maybin’s single.

Bullpen report:
Frankie Montas gave up a run over 2 1/3 innings after being called into early duty when Manaea got hurt. Dull, trying to keep it a 4-3 game, did not have his command in the seventh. He threw a wild pitch, hit Danny Espinosa with a 1-2 pitch and then allowed Maybin’s two-run single that keyed Los Angeles’ four-run seventh.

At the plate:
It was a big night for Yonder Alonso, who had a two-run single in the first and then homered in the sixth to pull Oakland within 4-3. Alonso already has four homers, putting more than halfway to his 2016 total of seven in the season’s first month. The A’s struck out 13 times, giving them 24 strikeouts over the first two games of this series.

In the field:
It took until the seventh inning for the A’s to be charged with an error that snapped their streak of six consecutive errorless games. Stephen Vogt couldn’t hold on to Dull’s glove flip on Martin Maldonado’s squeeze bunt. But even before then, this wasn’t a sharp defensive effort. Joyce got caught off guard in the fourth when Maybin tagged up and made it to second on a fly to right. Joyce’s gesturing afterward seemed to suggest nobody was letting him now the runner was tagging. An inning later, Decker seemed stunned as the lumbering Albert Pujols went first to third on Andrelton Simmons’ single.

Attendance:
The announced crowd was 30,248.

Up next:
Kendall Graveman (2-0, 2.00) is set to come off the D.L. on Thursday and make his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He’ll be opposed by Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 4.76), who took the Opening Night loss against the A’s at the Coliseum when he allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings. First pitch is 7:05 p.m.