Sean Doolittle feels ‘like a rookie again’ ahead of second stint with Nationals

Doolittle feels 'like a rookie again' ahead of Nats return originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Nationals fan not delighted with Sean Doolittle’s return to D.C. for the 2022 season and that feeling is mutual, too. 

“I feel incredibly lucky to have played here once and now to be back and be able to do it again, I couldn’t be more excited,” Doolittle said on the Nats Insider podcast.

It’s been a long two years since Doolittle last sported the curly “W.” After knee and oblique injuries derailed his “final” season with the Nats in 2020, Doolittle turned in an uneven 2021 campaign with the Reds and Mariners. The left-hander posted a 4.53 ERA across 56 appearances and struggled with his command. 

Now, he feels rejuvenated to have a second chance with the franchise he helped bring a World Series to in 2019. 

“I feel like a rookie again,” Doolittle said. “I feel hungry. I feel like part of me is just happy to be here, excited to come to the field every day, but the other part of me is like I have something to prove. I have something to prove to myself, I have something to prove to Nats fans as well… I’m doing everything I can to make the most of this second chance.”

Part of Doolittle’s confidence entering the 2022 season stems from how he finished 2021. After diving a bit more into the analytics — with data-driven organizations in the Reds and Mariners — and getting his velocity back up, Doolittle shortened his offseason downtime to make sure he could build off that momentum this season. 

“I thought I ended [2021] throwing the ball really well,” Doolittle said. “My velocity came back and my run in August and September, I felt really good about it. So I only took two weeks off after the season and went to Arizona so that I could start working out. I wanted to carry as much of that momentum forward as I could.”

Doolittle feels good physically, he’s rejuvenated mentally and he’s back with his preferred team. It’s hard to imagine better conditions entering a 162-game stretch. 

“I feel a renewed energy for the game, I feel a renewed passion for baseball,” Doolittle said. “This is maybe the most fun I’ve ever had in camp.”

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