"There's a couple of the strength tests I still have to pass before I [can begin playing catch]. It's not so much based on time as it is on how I feel and where the strength is at."
Oakland placed Doolittle, who has a 2.93 ERA in 35 outings, on the DL on June 30 after the shoulder flared up following a heavy workload the prior week. He's missed parts of the last two seasons with another shoulder injury, prompting the lefty to alter his shoulder maintenance program heading into 2016. He believed it was working, citing an uptick in velocity each month this year, before the setback.
"It was doing really well. It just really stinks," he said.
Doolittle said he began to implement new shoulder exercises during rehab from his prior shoulder issues and continued to do some of those exercises this year as a part of his pregame routine, albeit with lesser intensity. Doolittle often uses a heavy ball to warm up -- similar to a hitter using a weighted bat to create a lighter feeling -- and has focused more on strengthening exercises.
He's also icing his shoulder considerably less than in prior seasons. Instead, he's opted to do more cardio work after appearances to "flush out the blood" and reduce inflammation, sometimes staying as long as two hours after games.
"It was worth it, because I was bouncing back really well and I felt great," Doolittle said. "It's just unfortunate I went back on the DL."
Doolittle said he still believes the modified shoulder program has preserved considerable shoulder strength, and that he's finally found a system that works after struggling with shoulder injuries for two years.
"[The medical staff] told me that with the rotator-cuff injury that I had, they said there were guys in the league pitching with that injury who you would never know," he said. "If you can keep the strength and keep the inflammation out of the shoulder, then you can pitch no problem with this."
A's acquire Detwiler
Oakland acquired lefty Ross Detwiler from the Indians for cash. Detwiler, 30, will report to Triple-A Nashville, providing the A's additional pitching depth, and is not on the 40-man roster. He's 2-4 with a 4.60 ERA in 12 Triple-A starts this season and posted a 5.79 ERA in seven relief appearances with Cleveland.