Sonny Gray will pitch for Team USA in this spring’s World Baseball Classic, a source confirmed to CSN California on Monday morning.
It will be the first time playing in the WBC for the A’s right-hander, who is looking to rebound from a tough 2016 season with Oakland. Gray said over the weekend he is feeling 100 percent after he spent two stints on the disabled list last season, one for a strained trapezius muscle and another for a strained forearm.
Team USA was in need of another starting pitcher after 2016 National League Cy Young winner Max Scherzer bowed out of the tournament with a fractured finger.
Gray becomes the fourth Athletic confirmed to play in the WBC, joining reliever John Axford (Canada), left fielder Khris Davis (Mexico) and reliever Liam Hendriks (Australia). They will report to spring training with Oakland before heading off to join their respective national teams in early March.
Though the A’s would not confirm Gray’s participation Monday morning, a spokesperson said the team would support Gray if he chose to play for Team USA. That falls in line with comments over the offseason from general manager David Forst that he wouldn’t stand in the way of any players who wanted to play in the WBC.
Major league teams have input in the decision-making if there’s an injury concern, so Gray’s participation shows the A’s don’t have reservations about his physical condition coming off his injuries. Gray said Friday he had thrown off the mound twice so far this offseason in advance of spring camp.
Pitchers are held to strict pitch counts for the WBC.
Should Gray show strong form in the first half of the upcoming season and the A’s not be in contention, it stands to reason he will be one of the hottest names in the rumor mill leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
The San Francisco Chronicle was first to report Gray would play in the WBC.