The Oakland Athletics have now used the disabled list once for each spot on the active roster.
With Sonny Gray being sent to the 15-day DL he becomes the team’s 25th use of the list in 2016. The A’s (48-62) have been hit hard by injuries all season, with five expectant major league contributors having never played a game this season, and three more having their season ended early on.
Gray (5-11, 5.74 ERA) was lifted after the fifth inning Saturday — despite looking better than he had all year, according to catcher Stephen Vogt called the best he has looked — due to pain in his right arm. The right-handed hurler was diagnosed with a strained extensor (forearm) muscle. On Sunday, he was sent to the DL, joining seven fellow major league pitchers on the team’s injured list.
“It’s frustrating. We’ve got a starting rotation on the DL, it seems like. It’s hard to watch, because these guys work so hard.”
One season after finishing third in the American League Cy Young race, the 27 year-old has suffered through the worst season of his career. Lacking any semblance of consistency, Gray has posted back-to-back quality starts just twice since April 22 which makes this DL trip, his second of the season — the previous due to a strained trapezius — especially frustrating to the starter.
“The most frustrating thing is feeling good out there, and having some stuff — being able to make some pitches. My stuff was very sharp. To have (the start) cut short was very unfortunate.”
He has not yet undergone any type of testing. He will be examined by the team’s physicians before any further decisions are made.
Chris Smith (career 1-0, 5.19 ERA) replaces Gray on the 25-man roster, though he will fill a role in the bullpen. The 35-year-old righty has not pitched in the major leagues since a relief appearance Milwaukee Brewers in 2010. With Jesse Hahn (2-4, 6.02 ERA) having been sent to the DL earlier in the week, and Dillon Overton (1-3, 10.97 ERA) optioned to Triple-A Nashville, Oakland has several vacancies in the rotation.
Manager Bob Melvin said that, while he does not have answer for all openings, Zach Neal (1-1, 5.25 ERA), who has posted a 2.12 ERA in 17 innings over nine relief appearances since May 25, will get the start on Tuesday. The team’s brain trust will use the time between Sunday and Monday’s games to make decisions on how the rotation will look beyond Tuesday.
Of the rookie’s recent run of success, the manager said:
“He feels a lot more comfortable, looks a lot more confident, on the mound. He’ll get an opportunity to start again, and I look forward to seeing what he has to offer.”
Melvin ruled out Daniel Mengden (1-5, 5.73 ERA), who started for Triple-A Nashville on Saturday, as an immediate option.
“Mengden, we’re giving a little break to, he threw 80 pitches (Saturday). We’re trying to cut back a little bit on the workload that he’s already had this year.”
Henderson Alvarez, who has not yet pitched this season, played catch on Sunday. The righty had two separate rehab stints cut short by discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder. Melvin is holding out hope that 26-year-old will pitch in 2016, but there is currently no timetable.
Neither have advanced in their recoveries.
Given their position in the standings, the A’s will use the recent rash of injuries to allow audition opportunities to youngsters, Melvin said:
“It’s gives an opportunity for somebody else in the organization to get a chance. We don’t want to go through what we’ve gone through, and some years are more difficult than others. … You just have to deal with it, and use the rest of the guys in the system.”