Gray attacks sim game with midseason intensity

Gray attacks sim game with midseason intensity

MESA, Ariz. -- Set up on the back field of the A's home complex, Sonny Gray threw his first Spring Training pitches with little fanfare Friday morning.

In typical Sonny fashion, though, he treated it just like any other start.

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"He was so mad at me because I called a pitch the first at-bat that I wouldn't normally call and he goes, 'Hey, this is like a real game. Let's go,'" catcher Stephen Vogt said, laughing.

Then, there was this: "He threw what was supposed to be a sinker and it ended up cutting about three feet," Vogt explained. "That was absolutely disgusting. That happens with Sonny all the time."

Yes, even during a simulated game that is set up with the purpose of allowing Gray to pitch in a controlled environment.

Oakland's ace faced 12 batters, allowing two hits -- including a home run to infield prospect Renato Nunez -- and striking out four. He only reached one three-ball count.

"Today was a very, very good day," Gray said.

Most days he pitches are.

"Outstanding," Vogt said. "His fastball command was unbelievable, his ball was moving a ton. Breaking ball was really sharp. Two hard contacts, that was about it. He looked great."

Gray, who threw 42 pitches, is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Wednesday on the road against the White Sox.

Worth noting

• Reliever John Axford also threw one inning in the simulated game, showcasing good life.

"All three hitters were like, 'Wow, this is funky," Vogt said. "He's got a little hesitation, and the ball explodes out of his hand. He threw some pretty good breaking balls that had some good movement and late."

• Vogt, who came off the bench to single in his first at-bat of the spring during Friday's victory over the Rockies, is expected to start at designated hitter Saturday. He's not expected to resume catching duties for at least another week, after undergoing elbow surgery a month ago, but he threw out to 120 feet Friday morning and feels "great. I'm progressing well," he said.

• Closer Sean Doolittle allowed one run on three hits in one inning in his spring debut but was pleased with the work he was able to put in with his breaking pitches, particularly a changeup he's attempting to perfect.

• A's manager Bob Melvin wasn't surprised when he saw Franklin Barreto, the club's top overall prospect, hit a home run in his first Spring Training plate appearance.

"If you watch him take batting practice or watch him go about his business here," he said, "I think he knows he's got some ability, and to step up like that, hit a homer your first time up, it's not luck."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.