A year ago Sean Doolittle was looking at the end of a career that never got started. Knee and wrist injuries had stalled the once promising first baseman’s hitting career. It was then that Doolittle decided it was time for a change.
In 2007, the A’s made Doolittle the 41st overall pick in the draft. The big left hander had an impressive career at the University of Virginia as a pitcher and first baseman. In 40 career games that included 16 starts, Doolittle went 14-4 with a 2.12 ERA, striking out 174 over 140 innings. But it was his 15 homeruns and .318 average that made him the 41st selection overall.
The A’s saw a lot of power potential in Doolittle and he didn’t fail to disappoint. In 2008, Doolittle hit .286 with 22 homeruns and 91 RBIs as he split time between Single-A Stockton and Double-A Midland. But after only 28 games for the Rivercats in the 2009 season, Doolittle injured his knee costing him the rest of that season and all of the 2010 season.
But Doolittle isn’t one to quit, and coming into the 2011 season Doolittle was ready to put all his knee injuries behind him and get himself back on track to Oakland. He was even added to the 40 man roster in spring training. However during an extended spring training game in May, Doolittle injured his wrist on a swing. The wrist injury took several months to heal and it looked as if injuries would force Doolittle to cancel his career before it got started.
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It was then that Doolittle began throwing off a mound to distract him from his growing woes. After a talk with the A’s brass, Doolittle had a whole new trajectory to the majors.
Doolittle pitched in the Fall instructional league and impressed enough to start the 2012 season at Single A Stockton. After posting a 0.72 ERA and striking out 48 batters in only 16 games, Doolittle has made it to the majors.
Last night Doolittle made his major league debut and struck out everybody. Working exclusively with a fastball topping at 95 MPH, Doolittle showed that his domination of hitters is not limited to the minor leagues. In 1.1 innings, Doolittle struck out 3 (he didn’t really strike out everybody) and got Gentry on a soft liner to first. It took him only 21 pitches.
After the game, Doolittle was still in awe. “It was really surreal. Still kind of sinking in to be honest. I was so focused on controlling my breathing and trying to calm myself down that it didn’t really let me get too worked up about the situation I was coming into or the guys that I was going to face.”
In a season that is becoming increasingly hopeless, it’s great to see that there is at least one bright spot to give fans a reason to watch. And for those who saw Doolittle pitch last night, they know it is a very powerful bright spot indeed.