Doolittle feels good after making season debut

Doolittle feels good after making season debut

OAKLAND -- The A's dropped their 15th one-run game of the season and lost starter Scott Kazmir to an injury along the way Wednesday, but left-hander Sean Doolittle provided something of a bright spot in the 3-2 loss to Detroit with a scoreless sixth inning in his season debut.

Beyond the zero, Doolittle found comfort in how he got it. Unable to strictly rely on his fastball right now -- it's averaging 89 mph, and topping out at 90 -- the southpaw was effective with both his changeup and slider, two pitches he bettered while rehabbing from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the A's first 48 games.

"That was good to see, and I think that will give me some confidence moving forward, not having to worry about what the radar gun says and know that I can pitch a little bit now," said Doolittle. "I have a lot of confidence in my ability to locate [the fastball], so to have those other options to go to, I think it takes a lot of the pressure off."

"Obviously the velocity on the board isn't what it used to be, but he'll get that back, I'm sure," said catcher Stephen Vogt. "But the ball still has that good rise, that little giddy-up at the end, and he's still blowing his fastball by good hitters.

"He's going to use all three of his pitches. He's going to pitch. It might be a little different-looking Doolittle, but it's still going to be the same results. He's still going to get people out and he's still going to be huge for us coming out of the pen."

Doolittle struck out two and allowed one hit in the 14-pitch inning, which he said he entered with "all the nerves and adrenaline rush comparable to how I felt when I made my big league debut," he said.

"I know that's a good first start for him," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "We'll see how the velocity does in the coming games. But we knew it probably wasn't going to be what we've seen before."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.