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Nationals’ closer Sean Doolittle & bullpen carts: A love story years in the making

Sean Doolittle has shown an affinity for alternate methods of mound transportation his entire career.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“When you are coming in from the bullpen, it is important to ‘announce your presence with authority,’ as ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh famously put it in Bull Durham.

“Can you imagine?! A monster truck! Climbing in that thing from the bullpen and driving it onto the field, maybe doing some donuts on the infield or some sick jumps off the mound before dropping me off to pitch?”

The above quotes come from a 2015 Player’s Tribune piece written by Sean Doolittle, titled “9 Things I’d Like to Ride to the Mound.

Doolittle mentions everything from Heelys to hoverboards to Luckdragons in the aforementioned piece — but oddly, not a bullpen cart.

Perhaps Doolittle wanted to be realistic; the last time a Major League team used a bullpen cart was in 1995, the year before the Brewers retired their cart, the last of its kind.

At least, until this season, when the Arizona Diamondbacks unveiled their new bullpen cart before the season.

This bullpen cart is somewhat unlike its predecessors, which would be full-grown millennials by now had they not likely met an untimely end in the junk heap; it’s more modern and sleek, and features a prominent ad across the helmet and body of the car.

Nonetheless, it was love at first sight for Doolittle when he arrived in Arizona for the Nats’ four-game series with the Diamondbacks.

“They had asked before the game if there were any relievers interested in taking the cart,” Doolittle said to MLB.com’s Jack Magruder. “I was like, yeah, I think I’m going to.”

Doolittle waited in the bullpen the whole game, before warming up and entering the game, sitting shotgun.

“Why would I not conserve my energy before going into a game in the biggest moment? I’ve been advocating for bullpen carts for a few years. I think they are a good idea. I think there is a practical application for them.”

He was only the second reliever to use it, after the Astros’ Colin McHugh used it earlier in the week.

The next night, Dave Martinez called his number again — and he came in on the cart yet again.

He got a different driver but was more than happy with his riding experience.

From his interview with Dan Kolko postgame after finishing his second straight save against the DBacks:

“I forgot my AUX cord last night, I but I brought it tonight. We’re getting used to it, but it was smooth sailing. Five stars, would ride again.”