NEW YORK -- While growing up in Tennessee, Sonny Gray remembers thinking that it seemed like "every kid wanted to play for the Yankees," a dream that the right-hander now will have a chance to experience on a nightly basis. It was also an opportunity he had to explain to his 2 1/2-year-old son, Gunnar.
"The first thing I said was, 'Gunnar, I'm not going to be playing for the A's anymore. I'm going to be playing for the Yankees,'" Gray said before the Yanks' 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday. "And he just says, 'Why, Dad? Why?' He doesn't know, but I know he's going to love it here, just as myself and my wife [Jessica]; she's very excited."
After weeks of rumors, A's executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane delivered the news Gray was waiting for, informing his ace that he was heading to The Bronx in exchange for prospects Dustin Fowler, James Kaprielian and Jorge Mateo.
Gray said that his immediate reaction was "a big smile," and that any potential sadness about leaving his original organization was quickly replaced by the anticipation of a postseason chase in New York.
"I want to come here and contribute in more ways than one," Gray said. "Every day I get out there on the mound, I want to put the team in the best chance to win that game. In between starts, if there's anything I can do in the locker room, in the dugout; expectations are always high at a place like this. I wouldn't want it any other way."
Gray's first Yankees start will come on Thursday in Cleveland, to be followed on Friday by the Yankees debut of left-hander Jaime Garcia, who was acquired Sunday from the Twins for two Minor League pitchers. Those moves capped a busy month that also saw the Yankees add Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and Player Page for David Robertson from the White Sox on July 18.
"I don't know if I feel like it's 2009, but we're feeling good in here," Carsten Sabathia said. "We're pretty confident. This is a team that has battled all year. It's a really good team, a close-knit team. Just adding guys like Garcia and Sonny Gray, and Tommy and D-Rob coming back, it's only going to make us that much better."
Garcia made just one start for Minnesota after beginning the year with the Braves, and he said that it was "emotional" to learn he would soon be wearing pinstripes. Garcia said that while growing up in Mexico, the Yankees were always his family's favorite team.
"My grandfather was always a huge Yankee fan," Garcia said. "He told me when I was a kid [that] he would always see me playing for the Yankees one day. So my mom was very emotional about it because of that story. My grandfather passed away when I was 13 years old. The family was touched by that, because obviously they were all Yankees fans."
Garcia is still in the process of having his belongings shipped from Atlanta, but if he lands in a pinch, there is at least a familiar face to call upon. With the Cardinals, Garcia shared a clubhouse with Matthew Holliday, whom Garcia called "one of my favorite teammates of all time." Garcia said he is excited to be reunited with the slugger, with whom he spoke shortly after the trade.
"We talked a little about the organization, and he told me nothing but great things," Garcia said. "First-class, from the coaching staff to the front office, facilities, trainers, the clubhouse. He said great things. He reaffirmed, 'You're going to fit in great here. You're going to love the guys and the clubhouse.' It's a great deal."