Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Sean Doolitte

During spring training, the talk of the Oakland A's big league camp – from a position-player perspective – was prospect Sean Doolittle, who impressed both with his bat and his glove during his first taste of major league spring training. Doolittle got off to a solid start with Sacramento, only to be felled in early May by a knee injury. We spoke with Doolittle about his rehab and recovery …

Sean Doolittle is getting close to returning to the field, and that has to be good news for the Oakland A's front office, who will be tasked with setting the A's roster for the 2010 season during the winter months. That is because despite being barely two years removed from being selected in the supplemental first round of the 2007 draft, Doolittle is already knocking on the door of the big leagues and is pushing to be a big part of the A's future. How he fares in the final few months of the 2009 season could determine where Doolittle lands in the A's off-season plans for 2010.

Before that happens, Doolittle has to get healthy, however. The first-baseman/outfielder is 10 weeks into his recovery from tearing his left patella tendon in a game on May 8th. At the time of the injury, Doolittle was working on three consecutive games with two hits a piece and had posted an 811 OPS in his first 28 games at the Triple-A level.

Doolittle is with Sacramento, working out with the team, taking full batting practice and completing his grueling rehab, which included a new treatment for patella tendon tears – but no surgery. We spoke to Doolittle in Sacramento on Saturday just after he completed a strong session in batting practice about the injury, his timetable for return, his confidence at the time of the injury and more…

OaklandClubhouse: How is the rehab going?

Sean Doolittle: It's going okay. In the beginning, I was progressing pretty quick, but now the progression has kind of slowed down a little bit, but now I have only a little more to go.

OC: Did you actually tear your patella tendon?

SD: Yeah.

OC: Did you have surgery on it?

SD: No. I had this therapy done called plasma enriched protein therapy. It's pretty new so they weren't sure exactly what my timetable was going to be. They take your own blood, draw the plasma out of it and then inject it back into your tendon. It's pretty interesting. We've dodged the bullet on surgery, so that is good.

OC: How did you hurt it? Were you running around the bases?

SD: I did it while in the outfield. I was coming in from right-field to make a throw to home. I fielded the groundball and took my crowhop and put all of my weight back on my back leg and it kind of buckled. It ended up getting really tight. I actually played the rest of the inning because I wasn't really sure what was wrong with it. My knees had been sore to begin with, and I think that was kind of the last straw.

OC: So you are in the last few weeks of the rehab?

SD: We are in the last stretch. I have been running the bases before workouts on my own with the therapist and I did some sliding stuff a couple of times. I have been taking full batting practice. I can run full speed, but they are just not sure how it is going to respond when a) I am going game-speed, because that is tough to simulate, and b) when I am going several days in a row because throughout this whole process, I have been going two or three days on with a lighter day. Now we are kind of cranking it up, so they just want to make sure that it responds alright.

OC: Before you got hurt, you were off to a good start in Sacramento and you were coming off of a good spring with the big league club. Before the injury, were you feeling comfortable with where your game was at?

SD: Yeah. Spring training gave me a lot of confidence. Like you said, I felt like I was off to a pretty decent start. I think I was actually swinging the bat better than my numbers showed. I was feeling really comfortable at the plate. In a way, it was really frustrating for me when they told me how long I was going to be out.

OC: Defensively, playing out in right field is relatively new to you. Are you feeling comfortable out there, as well?

SD: Yeah, I have gotten a lot more comfortable out there. By the time I got hurt, I felt fine out there. I actually started to like it. It was fun running around. I like to make the throws from out there.

OC: You get to use your pitching arm.

SD: Yeah, it's fun to finally let the throws go. I like it out there.

OC: Your brother [Ryan Doolittle, a pitcher in the A's organization] has been out all year. Is he hurt as well?

SD: Yeah, he's hurt too. He strained his UCL. He doesn't need surgery either. He just needs a lot of rehab. Last I heard, they were eyeing Instructional League for him to come back.

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