Gray still hopeful he can pitch this season

Athletics ace throws off mound with no discomfort

September 11th, 2016

OAKLAND -- Athletics ace took another small step in his recovery from a strained right forearm and remains hopeful of pitching in a game before the season is over.

Gray threw 11 pitches off a mound -- all fastballs -- and came out of his abbreviated bullpen session Sunday without discomfort, an encouraging sign for the right-hander who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 7.

"It felt good, it felt very good," Gray said, after the A's 3-2 loss to the Mariners, just before the club departed for the start of a seven-game road trip beginning in Kansas City. "I was excited to get back out there off the mound. It felt good, which is what we were looking for."

Gray won 14 games in 2014 and again in 2015, but has struggled with injuries and performance this season. He missed 13 games earlier in the year with a strained right trapezius, and was mired in another funk when he went back on the disabled list with inflammation in his right forearm.

The A's have taken a slow, cautious approach with the 26-year-old pitcher since then.

Gray will accompany Oakland on the road this week and is scheduled to throw another bullpen session before the team decides what his next step will be.

"He felt great," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "If he throws a significant bullpen with all his pitches the next time around, then maybe we're on the road to potentially getting him some innings."

Gray, who is 5-11 with a career-worst 5.74 ERA in 21 starts this season, was encouraged by his latest test and said he is eager to get into a game before the year ends.

If he does pitch in one of the A's 20 remaining games this season, Gray will almost certainly do so out of the bullpen.

"I want to get back in there and pitch, whether it's one game or one inning or whatever," Gray said. "It's just something I want to do. Hopefully that will work, but I'm not going to rush to do it. If that's what the next step in the rehab proves, then that's what we're going to do. If we don't make it that far, then we won't."