The Oakland Athletics have activated Sonny Gray from the 15-day disabled list to start Sunday's game against the Houston Astros. To open a space on the active roster, the A's optioned reliever J.B. Wendelken to Triple-A Nashville.
Plans for Gray's activation were announced on Sunday after the A's elected to skip Rich Hill's start against the Astros over a minor groin strain sustained in his last start. Gray was going to make a rehab start of five innings or 80 pitches with the Stockton Ports, and he'll probably be under a similar limitation for the major league club.
The difficulty with that is that the bullpen has pitched 14 1/3 innings over the last two games. Jesse Hahn only recorded two outs in Friday's blowout loss, and Kendall Graveman only went 4 1/3 in Saturday's 12-inning contest. The A's optioned Andrew Triggs after he threw four of those relief innings on Friday. Fernando Rodriguez and John Axford pitched in both games of this series, and Marc Rzepczynski is the only reliever who did not pitch at all on Saturday.
Wendelken did not make an appearance for either of the two games he was officially called up for. He was unavailable for Friday's game because flight delays prevented him from getting to Houston until after the contest. He went unused on Saturday because the game was competitive. I would guess that if left-hander Daniel Coulombe had not been restricted from being called up until Saturday under the rule requiring optional assignments to last 10 days, Wendelken would have been sent down instead of Triggs that day.
The A's do have off days on Monday and Thursday to give their bullpen a break. Rich Hill is expected to rejoin the rotation in the series against Cincinnati next weekend.