OAKLAND — Sonny Gray threw a roughly 50-pitch session Tuesday with hitters standing in, and the A’s ace said he felt no ill effects from the strained trapezius muscle that put him on the shelf.
Gray is scheduled to throw off the mound again Thursday, after which the A’s will decide whether he’ll make a minor league rehab start somewhere or simply throw a simulated game with the major league club before coming off the disabled list.
“It definitely felt like the ball was coming out really well,” Gray said before Tuesday’s game against Minnesota. “It felt pretty free, nice and easy. Talking to the hitters, it seemed to be coming out real well with late life, which is kind of what I’m trying to get back to.”
Manager Bob Melvin liked what he saw from Gray, who last pitched May 20 before requiring a cortisone shot in the back of his neck. Melvin said the A’s hadn’t decided yet if Gray will fly with the team Thursday as it begins an eight-game road trip through Houston, Milwaukee and Cincinnati.
“If he’s gonna go pitch somewhere (in the minors) then probably not,” Melvin said.
Besides feeling good physically, Gray seemed to think he was in a good place from a pitching standpoint as well Tuesday. He’s been working on his delivery with pitching coach Curt Young and bullpen coach Scott Emerson.
For the previous month or so before he joined the DL, Gray struggled with command and consistency. How much of that is tied directly to his health is the big question.
“I know my body feels really good now, and there’s a little more rhythm in my delivery. I can feel that for sure,” Gray said. “It’s something that me, Curt and Emo had worked on. It gets me a little more rhythm, a little more momentum toward the mound. I definitely feel a difference in that. I just feel like the ball is coming out like it always has.”
Rich Hill, who left Sunday’s start with a mild groin strain, will throw his bullpen session Wednesday morning, and Melvin thinks that will be a good indicator of where the A’s will slot Hill back into the rotation. The team is currently listing Hill as starting Saturday at Houston, but Melvin has indicated Hill could be pushed back another day or so.
“He feels better today. He had multiple treatments yesterday and today,” Melvin said. “… He has an aggressive delivery, so we’ll have a pretty good idea when he’s throwing off the mound” of when he’ll make his next start.
In one last bit of pitcher injury news, Melvin said reliever R.J. Alvarez looked good facing hitters for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery in spring training. Alvarez will make a rehab appearance with Single-A Stockton on Friday.