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The Weekly Bernie, 4/24/17: Sonny shines in Stockton, nearing return to Oakland A’s

Sonny Gray dominated in his first rehab start with the Stockton Ports, and injuries have led to some changes to the A’s roster, among other news.

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to The Weekly Bernie! It’s the best dance in the game, so let’s get rolling once more!

  • Young ace Sonny Gray was dominant in his minor league rehab start for the High-A Stockton Ports on Saturday night. As Chris Biderman of writes, the 27-year-old was originally scheduled for only four innings, but instead made it through five, allowing only one hit, no walks, no runs, and striking out six. He could be back in Oakland soon, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The rotation has been solid in his absence, but if he is back to his old self, his stability will be more than welcome.
  • A pair of injuries have impacted the A’s roster for the time being. First, last Sunday, shortstop Marcus Semien was placed on the 10-day Disabled List with a broken right wrist. He was later transferred to the 60-day DL, and after surgery will be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks. Replacing him on the roster was infielder Chad Pinder. Adam Rosales has taken over everyday shortstop duties and done a fine job of it so far.
  • Next, righty Kendall Graveman was placed on the 10-day DL on Monday with a strained shoulder after struggling during his Friday night start against the Houston Astros. Bruce Maxwell was initially called up to take his place, but he was sent down on Thursday to make room for righty Cesar Valdez, who was making a spot start in Graveman’s place. Valdez was then sent back down for 1B/RF Matt Olson the next day. Graveman should be ready to come off the DL soon and could potentially make a start on Thursday in Anaheim, says John Hickey of the Mercury News.
  • On Sunday morning, the A’s picked up outfielder Ryan LaMarre in a minor trade from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Righty Chris Bassitt, rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery, was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room. LaMarre, 28, is a right-handed hitter. He isn’t much more than CF depth, but does have a bit of power and some speed.
  • The A’s farm also got hit by a big injury, as RHP Daulton Jefferies will have Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the year, via Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse. Jefferies was last year’s No. 37 overall draft pick, and placed No. 12 on our Community Prospect List. Here’s AN’s coverage.
  • On Thursday, 19-year-old Cuban super-prospect Luis Robert was cleared by MLB as a free agent, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Furthermore, as Jesse Sanchez of reports, he will become eligible to sign on May 20th, which does happen to fall before the end of the current international signing period. Tim Eckert-Fong explains why that’s helpful for the A’s. And indeed, Oakland is reportedly very interested in Robert, and held a workout for the outfielder on Friday with general manager David Forst among those in attendance, also per Sanchez.
  • On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for Nandrolone, a PED. The 28-year-old had blossomed into a well-rounded star, and he had just taken over centerfield in Pittsburgh, switching positions with Andrew McCutchen. This is a tough blow for a Pirates club that already needed a lot of luck to be able to make the postseason once more.
  • Yonder Alonso wrote a letter to his younger self on The Players’ Tribune, telling of his life after moving to the U.S.
  • Finally, here’s a cool video about Sean Doolittle and his own life story!

That’s all for this week. The A’s are off today, but kick off a three-game set in Anaheim against the Angels on Tuesday night. Feel free to dump any links in the comments below. Until next time - lean on, A’s fans!