ANAHEIM -- A's fans won't see Sonny Gray pitch again this season, but they're at least ensured of one final glimpse of Barry Zito toeing the rubber in green and gold.
Gray has been shut down for the season with hip soreness, and the Southern California-native Zito has been selected to start in his place against the Angels on Wednesday, manager Bob Melvin announced ahead of Monday's series opener.
Zito will throw on three days' rest after getting up to 48 pitches with one out in the third inning Saturday in a showdown with fellow Big Three member Tim Hudson, his first start since 2003.
But there was no hesitation when approached about Wednesday's outing, which has potential to be the final start of the 37-year-old Zito's career -- one that began 15 years ago with a start against the Angels.
"I asked him if he was up for it," Melvin said, smiling, "and he was very up for it.
"Pretty motivated guy. I think he couldn't care less about how many pitches he's thrown or going on three days' rest, two days' rest, he's just eager to get another start. To be able to start again, he's going to be a very motivated guy, so you throw rest and pitch counts out the window with a guy like him."
With that in mind, Melvin will loosen the reins come Wednesday, noting 70 pitches "isn't out of the question if he feels good."
Gray finishes his second full big league season 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA, which ranks third in the American League. He posted a 2.04 ERA in the first half and a 3.74 ERA in the second half, largely because of an uncharacteristically woeful September in which he struggled to the tune of a 6.84 mark.
"He had another great year, he really did," Melvin said. "You kind of remember things recently, and he had a couple of tough outings, but we needed to win one of those games against the Giants, and he was there for us that game. You look at all the internal numbers, one of the best performers in the American League for sure. Another terrific season for him."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.