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Annoyed Gray works way out of jams

PHOENIX -- Sonny Gray was back in game action Saturday for the first time since the postseason, slightly irked that he was forced to work his way out of more than one jam but glad he did.

"It was a battle," Gray said, "but I was able to make some pitches when I needed to."

Oakland's young righty was introducing himself to the Rangers for the first time ever and totaled two innings in his spring debut, allowing two hits with two walks and two strikeouts but no runs.

"I felt I got ahead very well today and then maybe tried to do too much," he said. "I just have to get those two-strike pitches, put guys away and stay in attack mode."

"He's real hard on himself," said manager Bob Melvin, when hearing of Gray's comments. "He's one guy that you don't have to manufacture a way to motivate him. He's a very driven kid. He has the same personality whether he's throwing an inning in a Spring Training game or pitching in the playoffs, and it works very well for him."

Even when playfully asked about facing former Minor League teammate Michael Choice, who said pregame he'd "have a hard time not laughing up there," Gray replied, "Yeah, I didn't look at him."

"We're friends," he continued, "but we're both big competitors."

Choice, sent to the Rangers in the Craig Gentry trade, hit a double in his first at-bat against Gray, who threw him a fastball. It's a pitch he was pleased with, but he found even greater success with his changeup.

He only threw three curveballs.

"And that was with two strikes where I really needed to make a pitch," Gray said. "I threw a lot of changeups, and I was getting a lot of swings on them. They were being really aggressive and just missing the changeup or fouling it off, so that went really well today. Overall, I felt good."

"He got behind some guys and put some guys on base but worked his way out of it," said Melvin. "More than anything, he got his pitches in and didn't give up any runs."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.
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