The Oakland Athletics have jettisoned more than a few players integral to their recent success, but losing Sean Doolittle wasn’t a part of the plan.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the A’s closer has a small tear in his left rotator cuff and will likely miss the beginning of the 2015 regular season:

Joe Stiglich of CSN reports on the setback:

Slusser added that surgery may not be necessary, which would undoubtedly cut down on his recovery time:

Doolittle led the team in saves last year (22) while compiling a 2-4 record and a 2.73 earned run average. He earned the first All-Star trip of his three-year career.

Casey Pratt of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area felt that Oakland likely traded for Tyler Clippard last week in preparation for this news:

Clippard would seemingly be the next guy in line after Doolittle’s injury. In seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, the 29-year-old made 34 saves in 414 appearances. He led the team in saves back in 2012.

Losing Doolittle is a tough blow for the Athletics, but the combination of timing and possible lack of surgery helps to soften the impact. Plus, with Clippard in the fold, the team has somebody with ninth-inning experience who can step in for the first few weeks or months.

As long as the timetable for Doolittle’s return doesn’t extend into June or July, Oakland won’t be in too much trouble.

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