GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Sonny Gray pitched three innings in his first start of the spring and then was named Oakland’s opening day starter after the Athletics hammered the Chicago White Sox 12-3 Wednesday.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin said postgame the right-hander will pitch the opener April 4 against the White Sox, likely against fellow All-Star Chris Sale.
“You look up opening day starter in the dictionary and there’s a picture of Sonny Gray,” Melvin said. “And he’s been that way for us since he’s gotten here.”
Gray gave up three hits and a run while striking out four. Meanwhile, A’s batters pounded Chicago pitching for 19 hits and scored in every inning but the eighth.
Josh Reddick drove in two runs with a triple, Sam Fuld and Jake Smolinski had three hits apiece and Andrew Lambo and Matt Chapman homered for the A’s.
A’s: Gray wasn’t completely satisfied despite his mostly good performance.
“I threw a lot of fastballs. I wasn’t locating as good as I’d like to. My curveball wasn’t good,” he said.
After leaving the game, Gray said he threw about 10 more pitches in the bullpen.
“We were simulating a couple more hitters and just trying to work on more stuff,” he said.
Melvin liked what he saw.
“Sometimes in a first start there’s a little jumpiness for a guy like him, but he was really good,” the manager said.
White Sox: Jacob Turner was hit hard on the mound in his second spring start. He was pulled after Josh Phegley’s two-out RBI double in the third and was charged with five earned runs.
He gave up six hits, walked two, hit a batter and struck out two. He threw 62 pitches.
Sale said he threw 65 pitches in a five-inning simulated game Wednesday morning.
“There’s something to be said about pitching in a game, even if it’s spring. You’re going to get a little more adrenaline, a little more stretched out,” the four-time All-Star lefty said after the session. “You’re almost competing with yourself. That’s where I get the focus, that edge, on every pitch. That’s where competition comes in.
“There’s so many ways to work out your arm and get it in shape, whether it’s batter to batter or throwing long toss on the back fields,” he added. “There’s so many ways to prepare yourself for the season and I think that’s what we’re calculating right now. As of now it’s working well.”
Felix Doubront relieved Gray and went three innings — he struck out six and gave up just one hit with no walks. Melvin said the lefty is definitely being considered for a rotation spot.
“Really good curveball today, the best I’ve seen as far as touch from him,” Melvin said. “I think the conditioning that he did in the offseason has really helped him.”
A’s closer Sean Doolittle, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, struck out the side in the seventh. Oakland pitchers finished with 14 strikeouts on Wednesday.
White Sox first baseman/designated hitter Adam LaRoche is still a few days away from returning, manager Robin Ventura said. LaRoche left Saturday’s game with back spasms.
A’s: Lefty Rich Hill starts against the Dodgers in Mesa.
White Sox: Carson Fulmer faces the Royals for the second time on Thursday in Glendale, while lefty Jose Quintana and the split-squad team take on the Rangers in Surprise.