A’s pregame notes: Gray wins pitcher of the month, Parker throws from 45 feet

Sonny Gray won the AL pitcher of the month award for the second time this year. (Staff photo/Dan Honda).

Sonny Gray won the AL pitcher of the month award for the second time this year. (Staff photo/Dan Honda).

A’s pitcher Sonny Gray collected his second American League pitcher of the month award Monday. He was honored after going 5-0 with a 1.03 earned run average in five July starts.

“I was excited to get it,” Gray said of the award. “But it was really nice to have a nice month, especially after struggling the month before a little bit. So it’s just really nice to get back on track.”

Gray is the first A’s pitcher since Barry Zito to win this award twice in one season. Zito was honored in August and September of 2001. No pitcher had won the award twice in an Oakland uniform at all since Mark Mulder (June 2002 and June 2004).

Gray rebounded in July after going 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in June. That was his worst month of the season, but it’s all relative for a pitcher who is now 12-4 with a 2.59 ERA in his first full season in the big leagues.

Gray also earned pitcher of the month honors in April when he went 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA, stats that included the season opener March 31.

“To win it once during the season is quite the achievement,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Twice is even more so obviously.

“He’s a pretty focused kid. He’s very hard-working, always wants to get better. I know if he has a month that’s not satisfactory for him, to be able to turn it around and be pitcher of the month is quite an accomplishment.”

* Jarrod Parker was able to throw from 45 feet Monday, a first step as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery that has him for the season.

“Just to be able to get out there and actually throw a baseball for the first time gives you some satisfaction based on the hard work you’ve been putting in to get to this point,” Melvin said of Parker. “It was nice. It put a smile on everyone’s face.”

A.J. Griffin, also out for the year with an arm injury, inched closer to joining Parker in throwing a baseball. He’s begun tossing a sock.

“It’s a big step,” Melvin said. “He was in a good mood too.”

* Coco Crisp will participate in batting practice before Monday’s game against the Rays and if all goes well, he could be available off the bench. Melvin also said it’s possible he could re-join the lineup Tuesday, but didn’t want to get ahead of himself.

“He feels pretty good,” Melvin said. “I think he took some swings in the cage but we’ll know more after he takes BP out there on the field.”

* Kyle Blanks will run the bases Tuesday and Thursday to test out his left calf strain and could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment shortly after.

Jimmy Durkin

Jimmy Durkin is a sports writer for the Bay Area News Group.