Sonny Gray is the last man standing in drive to start opener for the A’s
Sonny Gray got the job that just about everyone but Sonny Gray expected him to get when A’s manager Bob Melvin named him the opening day starter.
Gray will be followed in the rotation by Scott Kazmir, Jesse Chavez, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone.
The opening day start was expected originally to go to Jarrod Parker, but the competition opened up when it was learned that Parker will miss the season and undergo tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery.
Even with Parker, Gray was considered a contender for the opening day assignment by manager Bob Melvin, who isn’t afraid of putting the 24-year-old in the spotlight.
Last year in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Melvin went with Gray over 18-game winner Bartolo Colon, and while the A’s lost that game, it wasn’t because Gray didn’t pitch well.
“He’s very quickly become one of those guys,’’ Melvin said of Gray, who was 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA after his promotion to the big leagues last year and then pitched eight shutout innings in Game 2 of the playoffs against Detroit before taking the 3-0 loss in Game 5.
The A’s have some serious decisions to make before the evening is over.
The club has nine men on the roster who are arbitration eligible and by 9 p.m. this evening Oakland must decide which of the nine will be tendered contracts.
The group includes pitchers Jerry Blevins, Jesse Chavez and Fernando Rodriguez, catcher John Jaso, first basemen Daric Barton and Brandon Moss, shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielders Josh Reddick and Seth Smith.
Those players who are tendered contracts are those the club is willing to go to salary arbitration with, although typically the A’s like to avoid arbitration whenever possible. Non-tendered players become free agents.
With the notable exception of reliever Fernando Rodriguez, things are looking up for the A’s on the injury front.
Rodriguez has been diagnosed as having torn his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. And while he is looking at having a second opinion, the remedy is for him to have Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery that will force him to miss the entire season.
By John Hickey
PHOENIX – Right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez, who came out of his last spring training relief appearance after one pitch, will need Tommy John-style ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow and will miss the 2013 season, the Bay Area News Group has learned.
A’s sources would not confirm the injury, but Oakland is likely to announce the need for surgery Thursday morning.
Rodriguez, who came to the A’s in the trade of first baseman Chris Carter that also netted Oakland shortstop/second baseman Jed Lowrie, is a 28-year-old with a 95-mph fastball.
Rodriguez was pitching in relief Monday against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, but came off the mound after one pitch. He was competing for a job at the end of the A’s bullpen.
He is 4-13 with a 4.89 career ERA and was 2-10 with a 5.37 ERA with the Astros last year.