Parker, Doolittle take big steps forward in rehabs

Righty feels good in first start; lefty throws from flat ground

Parker, Doolittle take big steps forward in rehabs

OAKLAND -- Jarrod Parker made his first start in a professional game since Tommy John surgery on Thursday evening, and Sean Doolittle tossed 15 pitches from flat ground on Friday, marking big steps for these rehabbing A's pitchers.

Parker got up to 56 pitches in his rehab start for Class A Advanced Stockton, completing 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits, including a solo home run, and struck out one while walking none.

"I had a blast," said Parker. "Gave up a homer, hit a guy, I was still smiling, it didn't matter. I could've given up seven. I would've had fun.

"I might not have been very sharp. My delivery was probably quick. But I was healthy enough to catch up and be where I wanted to be. That was one of the big things I got out of it. Have fun. Come out of it feeling good. And compete. All three of those things I did. It's continuing the work after to continue to feel that way."

Parker, who underwent his second Tommy John surgery last spring, hopes to get up to five innings and around 75 pitches in his next start, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday with Stockton in Bakersfield. He's already a clubhouse favorite, having treated the Ports to a postgame spread from Tahoe Joe's.

"They were excited," said Parker, expected back with the A's in late May or early June. "I think that might've been the best loss of the year so far."

For Doolittle, who threw all of his pitches during his session Friday, "it's the best I've felt, which has been true every time out," he said.

"It's cool and encouraging. I can feel it getting stronger every time I throw, and I've been able to stay in my mechanics all the way out to 120 feet and backspin the ball. It's got good carry and everything right now. So very encouraging day for sure."

Doolittle, who has been rehabbing a shoulder injury since January, has been using this time in a controlled environment to experiment with different grips on his changeup and slider.

"We're trying to use this time to not only get my shoulder better," said Doolittle, "but improve as a pitcher as well."

"That's the kind of guy he is," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "He's always looking to try to get better and try to make his time that he's off useful and think about some things and implement them as we go along, whether it's certain grips on certain pitches he's been fooling around with. For me, it's just more about him feeling good about where he is right now."

Doolittle will throw from flat ground again Sunday, increasing to 20 to 25 pitches. From there, he could potentially advance to the mound, and the A's hope to have their closer back sometime in June.

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