Sonny Gray brushes off false trade rumor as A's blank Indians

Sonny Gray brushes off false trade rumor as A's blank Indians

OAKLAND — A cell phone can be the worst enemy for a ballplayer trying to get in the competitive frame of mind before first pitch.

Sonny Gray had his next to him leading up to Friday night’s start.

He probably wishes he hadn’t.

Less than an hour before game time at the Coliseum, Gray’s phone lit up with text messages from friends and loved ones who saw a false tweet coming out of Chicago that the A’s right-hander had been scratched against the Cleveland Indians, leading to all kinds of speculation that a trade was in the works.

“It’s hard,” Gray said. “You get 50 text messages 45 minutes before the game, and that’s when you just try to put your phone away and go to a place where you can block everything out and get ready for the game. So that’s kind of what I tried to do.”

About the only place he’ll be able to escape those rumors is when he walks to the mound. Gray set the distractions aside Friday and provided yet another stellar effort, bottling up the Cleveland Indians over six innings in Oakland’s 5-0 victory coming out of the All-Star break.

Over the past four starts, Gray is 3-1 and has surrendered just four earned runs in 27 innings for a 1.33 ERA. If you throw out an abbreviated one-inning outing in Anaheim in September of last season, Friday marked Gray’s first scoreless start since Sept. 8, 2015 against Houston. But it’s merely an extension of the excellent form he’s shown lately.

The downside of that success — no starter in the majors has more speculation swirling around him as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

Gray has downplayed things after some previous starts when the trade topic has come up. On Friday night, he didn’t hide the fact that the bogus pregame report bothered him a bit.

But he says it never got to the point where he went and asked anyone A’s-affiliated if he indeed he had been scratched and didn’t know it.

“I mean, it would be nice to have (some clarity), I guess, but that’s not how it works,” Gray said.

He wasn’t the only Athletic trade target who stood out Friday. Yonder Alonso crushed his 21st home run. Relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson both continued to exhibit their sharp form.

Shopping season has begun for contending teams, and the A’s “For Sale” sign is up. But it will take a boatload in return for a team to land Gray. The A’s have some leverage — a starter who is still young (27) and under team control for two more seasons after this. And with the Cubs coughing up two prime-time prospects to the White Sox in a package to get Jose Quintana — a starter with similar value as Gray — the A’s asking price gets steeper.

Whether a team ponies up to meet their high demand is the key to whether the A’s pull the trigger. After stocking up on young pitchers over the past couple of years, indications are the A’s would now like to get their hands on young, impact position players.

And it makes sense they would want prospects who are major league ready now, or very close to it. The outfield remains an area that needs upgrading.

Until then, Gray will do his best to keep his cell phone out of sight and ignore the rumors. “It’s just one of those things that you have to deal with sometimes,” he said. “Whatever happens is gonna happen, and that’s out of my control.”

Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

chriscarter-yankees-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Report: A's bringing back former slugger first baseman

The A's hit a lot of home runs and they appear to be bringing back a player that hits a lot of home runs.

Chris Carter, who played for the A's from 2010 through 2012, is reportedly signing a minor league contract to return to the organization.

News of the deal was first reported by FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Carter was released by the Yankees on July 10. In 62 games for New York, Carter hit .201/.284/.370 with five doubles, eight home runs and 26 RBI.

Over the previous four seasons between Houston and Milwaukee, Carter hit 131 home runs and drove in 328 runs.

Carter's high-water mark with the A's came in 2012 when he hit 16 home runs in 67 games.

Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

sonny-recap-us.jpg
USATSI

Sonny Gray keeps dealing, A's avoid sweep with win over Rays

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND — Sonny Gray struck out six pitching into the seventh in what might have been his final home start in Oakland if the club tries to deal him before the trade deadline, and the Athletics rallied in the fifth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Wednesday.

Matt Joyce hit a towering homer to the right-field seats in the eighth for Oakland.

Rajai Davis doubled home Oakland's first run in the fifth then Joyce followed with a tying sacrifice fly before Davis scurried home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Gray (6-4) won his third straight start and fourth in five. When speculation arose from the White Sox side before his Friday outing that the right-hander had been scratched because of a possible deal, the A's quickly announced that he was indeed taking the mound for his scheduled outing.

After a pair of one-run defeats to begin this series, the A's avoided being swept by the Rays in Oakland for the first time. This already marked just their third lost series at home to Tampa Bay.

Gray allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks.

The Rays got three straight singles off Gray to start the fourth inning, including an RBI single by Wilson Ramos. Brad Miller also drove in a run on a groundout.

But Oakland finally got to Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Faria (4-1) in the fifth. With seven straight quality starts to begin his career, Faria took his first big league loss.

A's All-Star Yonder Alonso hit an RBI single in the inning, when Faria had two of his four walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in five innings, striking out four.

Alonso was thrown out at home in the first when he tried to go from first on Khris Davis' double to right. The throw beat him so handily Alonso didn't even try to slide and instead ran behind the plate before turning for the dugout.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rays: RF Steven Souza Jr. exited the game in the first after straining his left hip trying to steal second after drawing a leadoff walk to start the game. Shane Peterson replaced him. X-rays were negative and he will be re-evaluated once the team arrives home. ... Manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell would make his next turn in the rotation despite still being winless at 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts. "He's going to pitch well," Cash said.

Athletics: The A's hope to have Chad Pinder back from the DL and a strained left hamstring when they return home from an upcoming seven-game trip to the New York Mets and Toronto. Manager Bob Melvin plans to use him as a utilityman. ... RHP Kendall Graveman allowed five hits and four runs with one strikeout and a walk on 46 pitches in 2 1/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville rehabbing his strained pitching shoulder. RHP Jharel Cotton (blister on his right thumb) also pitched in the game, striking out six in 3 1/3 innings, while Pinder was 0 for 2 with a walk and strikeout for the Sounds.

UP NEXT

Rays: With the Rays back home, RHP Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59 ERA) takes the ball in Friday's series opener against Yu Darvish and Texas having not faced the Rangers since April 6, 2014.

Athletics: After Thursday's day off following a cross-country flight, RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.83 ERA) pitches the series opener at the Mets in his fourth career start.