A’s right-hander Sonny Gray will be shut down from throwing for three weeks with a lat strain, manager Bob Melvin told reporters in Arizona on Thursday.
That means Gray is assured of starting the season on the disabled list and most likely would miss most of April as well.
Needless to say, it’s a significant blow to a club that was hoping to wipe the slate clean after injuries decimated the pitching staff throughout last season. Despite an off-year in 2016 that included two trips to the disabled list, Gray was looked upon as a pitcher who could bounce back and once again anchor Oakland’s rotation.
The lat strain is being characterized as moderate. After a sharp outing in his Cactus League debut, Gray issued four walks and three wild pitches in his second start Tuesday.
The A’s will now lean on a core of Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton to lead their rotation out of the regular-season gate, with Graveman a strong candidate for the Opening Day assignment based on his solid performance last year.
Considering the fifth starter spot was already up for grabs, Gray’s absence leaves two spots open at the back of the rotation. Jesse Hahn, Andrew Triggs and Raul Alcantara appear the leading candidates for those two spots, with young right-handers Paul Blackburn and Daniel Gossett also in the mix.
For the second straight season, Kendall Graveman will get the ball on Opening Day for the A's. And for the second straight year, he'll face Mike Trout and the Angels.
The team made the news official on Tuesday morning.
Last year, in a win over the Angels, Graveman went six innings, allowed two earned runs and struck out seven.
"It's something I don't take for granted. It's an honor and a privilege and [I just want to] try to get the season off to a good start and hopefully be a leader of this staff," Graveman told reporters Tuesday in Arizona.
In four seasons with the A's and Blue Jays, Graveman has a 4.11 ERA in 76 appearances.
UPDATE (Mar. 19, 7:45 p.m. PT): The A's officially announced the Cahill signing on Monday. This story has been updated to reflect that.
On the same day the Oakland A's learned they'd be without Jharel Cotton all season, they signed a familiar face to bolster their pitching depth.
Oakland agreed to a one-year deal with Trevor Cahill, nearly 12 years after the A's drafted him in the second round.
Cahill pitched for Oakland from 2009-11. He started 96 games in three seasons with the A's, going 40-35 with a 3.91 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Since Oakland traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dec. 2011, Cahill's pitched for six teams.
The 30-year-old won a World Series ring with the Chicago Cubs in 2016, and pitched for the San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals last season. In 2017, he went 4-3 in 21 appearances (14 starts) with a 4.93 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.