Sonny Gray started for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds on Thursday, his second minor league rehab start this season, and for the second time he dominated the lesser competition. According to the team’s insiders, he could be back with the Oakland A’s next week to start against the Twins.
In his latest rehab outing, Sonny tossed six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Combined with his start for High-A Stockton on Saturday, his total numbers are: 11 ip, 0 runs, 13 Ks, 0 BB, 3 hits (all singles). That’s about as close to perfection as a human pitcher can get. Here’s some video of Thursday:
Some more details, which were confirmed by the rest of the beat writers:
Melvin was watching video of Gray's outing before coming out. Says he's looking great, dotting his fastball. Hitting 94 mph.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) April 28, 2017
So what does all this mean for Sonny and his next step? Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle suggests Tuesday as the likely date for the ace’s 2017 debut, as that would put him on regular rest, but she notes that the team’s Monday off-day could mean everyone gets pushed back a day — the bottom line is it should be one of the three games in Minnesota.
She also gives a minor update on Sean Manaea’s health after the lefty’s tight shoulder forced him out of his last outing after just two innings. Thanks to the combination of the off-day and Sonny’s return, the A’s could theoretically skip Manaea’s next start completely without having to plug in a backup like Cesar Valdez.
In a fun detail from Thursday, Jane Lee of MLB’s site notes that this was the second time that Sonny, a Nashville native and resident, started for the Sounds. Here’s more on that topic.
After finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2015, Sonny was limited to 22 starts last year. He struggled virtually every time out and was visibly not on his game. He hasn’t pitched in the bigs yet this year due to a lat injury, but the last week has offered nothing but best-case-scenario-level encouragement.
Here’s hoping this is the real thing, and Sonny is ready to climb back on top of the world! Tune in next week (hopefully) to begin finding out.
P.S.: Next pitcher on the list for injury rehab updates will be Chris Bassitt. According to Slusser and also Lee, Bassitt will start for High-A Stockton on Saturday. This is his first game action since Tommy John surgery last May. Check out their stories for more details.