Sean Doolittle debuts, strikes out three in an inning and a third

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Yesterday we noted the improbable rise to the bigs by one Sean Doolittle, the very recently converted slugger who now strikes out guys by the bucketful as a relief pitcher.  He made his major league debut last night for the A’s. And he was good.

Doolittle pitched an inning and a third. He threw 21 pitches. All 21 of them were fastballs. He faced four guys, striking out three of them. Doolittle:

“It was really surreal. Still kind of sinking in to be honest,” Doolittle said. “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.”

The guys he faced:

  • Nelson Cruz, with a runner on third. Doolitle struck him out after going down 2-0 to him;
  • Mike Napoli, who he struck out;
  • Yorvit Torreabla, who he struck out; and
  • Craig Gentry, who lined out.

Doolittle’s fastballs averaged 94.35 m.p.h. and he topped out at 96.2.  As far as debuts go, I think this one qualifies as pretty frickin’ keen.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.