MESA, Ariz. — A’s manager Bob Melvin got a look at his top four relievers Sunday, all throwing in the order that they could appear during the regular season.
Liam Hendriks, John Axford, Ryan Madson and closer Sean Doolittle each worked an inning through the middle portion of a game against the Cubs that ended in a 3-3 tie after the A’s rallied in the ninth.
It wasn’t exactly a regular-season dress rehearsal in that the Oakland foursome pitched the fourth through seventh innings. But it was a chance for Melvin to see what that group looks like throwing consecutively.
“Hendriks got out of a jam. Madison and Axford threw the ball well,” Melvin said.
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Hendriks coaxed a ground-ball double play from Wilson Contreras to strand a runner at third. Axford and Madson each threw a scoreless inning — Axford struck out two, Madson gave up two hits.
Doolittle surrendered a homer to John Andreoli on an 0-2 pitch and didn’t have quite the same life on his fastball that he showed in his previous outing.
“There are certain times in the spring when your arm feels a little bit dead based on all the throwing you’re doing,” Melvin said. “His velocity probably wasn’t what we normally saw. He threw some changeups, threw some breaking balls. That’s what we want him working on. Just wasn’t his best fastball today.”
Doolittle struck out the side in a 1-2-3 inning against the White Sox in his previous outing. In three appearances, he’s given up two runs on five hits over three innings, with four strikeouts and one walk.
Melvin’s current bullpen plan would have Axford likely handling the seventh, with Madson setting up in the eighth for Doolittle. Hendriks could enter as early as the sixth but could be mixed in during the later innings, as could lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski.
NOTEWORTHY: In his second start, Jesse Hahn continued search for the right tempo on the mound. The right-hander said he was a little too hyped up in his spring debut, which was his first game since July. On Sunday, he said he probably needed a little more pep. He gave up a double, a walk and a homer to go with two wild pitches in a two-run first.
“I kind of went in with a lazy routine in my warmups,” he said. “I think I’m still trying to work that out, find a good routine for me to prepare for that first inning. I think I did a bad job of that today. Once I settled in and made some adjustments, everything kind of went smooth after that.”
Hahn went three innings and gave up just the two runs. On the plus side, Melvin said he thought Hahn showed his best curve of the spring.
NOTEWORTHY, PART 2: Doolittle hosted several guests as part of an afternoon honoring veterans as part of the Wounded Warrior Battalion. He posed for pictures and brought several veterans inside the clubhouse to meet players. Doolittle’s effort was in conjunction with a charity event being hosted Sunday night by Giants pitcher Jake Peavy.
STOCK RISING: Andrew Lambo singled as part of the A’s three-run game-tying rally in the ninth. He’s now hitting .429 (9-for-21) in 10 games.
PROSPECT WATCH: Shortstop Richie Martin and third baseman Renato Nunez were sent to the minors in the morning. Then after the game, lefty Dillon Overton — another of the A’s top 10 prospects — was among four reassigned to minor league camp. Overton tossed two scoreless innings against the Cubs.
Melvin said he thought Martin would benefit from the instruction he received from infield coach Ron Washington. About Nunez he added: “I think he tried to do a little too much at times … (but) this kid’s one of our top prospects for a reason.”
Pitchers Ryan Doolittle, Chris Smith and Taylor Thompson also were reassigned to the minors after the game.