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Gray surprised by injury, focused on recovery

A's ace won't throw for three weeks because of lat strain
MLB.com @JohnSchlegelMLB

MESA, Ariz. -- It began with a strange twinge during Sonny Gray's second start of Spring Training, and it still didn't seem like a big deal when he went to the doctor to get it checked. But now, that twinge has developed into another test for the A's ace.

Gray, who missed time last year with his first pair of stints on the disabled list, has been shut down from throwing for three weeks with a moderate lat strain, which affects the latissimus dorsi muscle that wraps around the mid-back area.

MESA, Ariz. -- It began with a strange twinge during Sonny Gray's second start of Spring Training, and it still didn't seem like a big deal when he went to the doctor to get it checked. But now, that twinge has developed into another test for the A's ace.

Gray, who missed time last year with his first pair of stints on the disabled list, has been shut down from throwing for three weeks with a moderate lat strain, which affects the latissimus dorsi muscle that wraps around the mid-back area.

"Going from last year into this year, I continue to get tested," Gray said Friday in his first comments a day after the diagnosis.

When Gray underwent an MRI on Wednesday -- the day after he felt the discomfort in the second inning of his start -- he was not thinking about an extended stay on the shelf.

"I personally didn't think anything of it," Gray said. "I told [manager] Bob [Melvin] before I left that day, 'I'm not worried about this at all. It'll be fine.' And the next day, I found out there was a little bit of a strain there, which was kind of shocking to me."

The timetable for Gray's return will be determined by when the soreness goes away. So in the meantime, he'll be taking anti-inflammatories and going through as much of his Spring Training preparation as he can -- without throwing, that is. That puts his status for Opening Day in question, if not out of the question.

Gray, who finished third in voting for the 2015 American League Cy Young Award, went on the DL twice last year -- first with a trapezius strain, and then a right forearm strain which sidelined him for most of the last two months, until he threw one inning in the team's season finale.

Video: Gray on offseason workouts, getting ready for 2017

This spring's injury came out of nowhere, Gray said.

"I went over in my head 100 times as to why this would happen, and I really can't come up with anything," Gray said. "I'm in great shape, my arm has been feeling amazing, my body's been feeling amazing, then just this little thing that limits you a little bit, that's the thing that is the most frustrating.

"It's a muscle. It's just a muscle that limits you when you throw a little. There's not a reason for it to happen. There's not something that could have prevented it."

Gray's frustration stems from being unable to continue his comeback from a rough 2016, when he went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in just 22 starts. In one sense, he's glad the strain was discovered and didn't turn into a worse injury. In another sense, some steam has been taken out of his charge into 2017 -- but his determination is intact.

"There's no doubt in my mind that when this thing gets knocked out, I'm going to be back to being the guy I've always been," Gray said.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB.

Oakland Athletics, Sonny Gray