PHOENIX — Monday was a good day to be Sean Doolittle.

The left-handed A's reliever came in having been pain-free for three days in the wake of suffering a right calf strain last week. Then he went on the mound and threw as if he'd never missed any time at all.

He showed good velocity, if not pin-point command.

``I felt really good,'' Doolittle said. ``It was important to test it, but I didn't think it was any big deal. I tweaked it on Tuesday and by Wednesday night I wasn't feeling any pain.''

The thing is, Doolittle is actually ahead of schedule, at least based on his 2013 spring when he was held out of competition

Not only was he coming off a good, long rookie year last spring, but he was still raw as a pitcher, having only just made the switch from hitting to pitching.

``Last year I was coming off my first year of pitching,'' Doolittle said. ``Combined in the major and minor leagues I'd thrown over 70 innings. Now having some more experience, my body has responded better.

``I can now get thrown in with some of the other guys and just get ready and be lie one of the normal guys.''

Manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young held Doolittle out of early work at this time last year, so the way the pitcher sees it, he's ahead of the game.


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``I guess I'm a coup of days behind, but I was like a week behind last year,'' he said. ``This way we can take our time and I can get integrated into the group. I like this a little bit better.''