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Gray throws 5 scoreless in rehab outing

Oakland's ace 'feeling healthy' after Class A start
Special to MLB.com

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Sonny Gray's Athletics teammates consider the ace of the staff their good-luck charm while he bides his time on the disabled list. During Oakland's recent winning streak, Gray delivered the lineup card to the umpire before each game.

But with Gray away from the team Saturday to pitch in a rehab outing for nearby Class A Stockton, fellow injured starter Kendall Graveman donned Gray's No. 54 jersey for the pregame meeting at home plate to keep the luck intact. The surging A's wound up extending their streak to five with a 4-3 win over the Mariners.

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Sonny Gray's Athletics teammates consider the ace of the staff their good-luck charm while he bides his time on the disabled list. During Oakland's recent winning streak, Gray delivered the lineup card to the umpire before each game.

But with Gray away from the team Saturday to pitch in a rehab outing for nearby Class A Stockton, fellow injured starter Kendall Graveman donned Gray's No. 54 jersey for the pregame meeting at home plate to keep the luck intact. The surging A's wound up extending their streak to five with a 4-3 win over the Mariners.

Hours later, Gray took a significant step in his return from a lat strain that's sidelined him since midway through Spring Training. The A's good-luck charm threw five shutout innings for Stockton and appears on track to rejoin the rotation in the next two weeks.

Gray tossed 47 pitches, 34 strikes, allowed one hit, struck out six and didn't walk a batter. His final two frames took seven and six pitches, respectively. A's pitching coach Curt Young and bullpen coach Scott Emerson were on hand to watch their ace's crisp performance.

"I feel really good," Gray said. "We got everything that we wanted to get accomplished accomplished. Coming out of the game, I feel really good. It's a good step forward for sure."

Gray had his full repertoire working. In a four-pitch strikeout of Jonah Arenado, the right-hander started off with a two-seam fastball on the inside corner, broke off a signature curveball for strike two, before finishing him with a slider in the dirt. He struck out the side in that second inning and had good life on his fastball throughout.

Gray last pitched 2 2/3 innings in an extended spring game on Monday. He said he was unsure when he'll throw in a game next. He went to the Ports' bullpen after his fifth frame to get his pitch count up to 60. The earliest Gray could return based on his schedule is May 2, when Oakland opens a three-game series in Minnesota.

The last competitive game Gray pitched in was back in September when he made a one-inning start against the Angels. It ended a tumultuous season that included two stints on the disabled list with strained forearm and trapezius. Gray uncharacteristically went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA after starting his career with a 2.88 mark over his first three seasons atop Oakland's rotation.

With so much time between meaningful innings, Gray said he felt butterflies before Saturday's start.

"The biggest thing for me to take away is that it feels good to feel good again out there," Gray said. "I really don't feel any issues going on with my elbow, with my lat, with anything, so now it's just getting my work in, getting out there and competing. And that's what's exciting to me, is feeling healthy and feeling like I can do what I want with the baseball."

Gray said he plans on returning to Oakland on Sunday so he can get back to turning in the lineup card when the A's look to win their sixth straight.

Tweet from @Athletics: Wait a minute? �� @kage49 @SonnyGray2 pic.twitter.com/ivIRBWPz2v

Chris Biderman is a contributor to MLB.com.

Oakland Athletics, Sonny Gray