Gray feels good after throwing bullpen session

Gray feels good after throwing bullpen session

KANSAS CITY -- A's right-hander Sonny Gray is not ready to close the book on his season.

Twice, it's been stalled by injuries; and even when healthy, Gray has fought to find the form that made him a Cy Young candidate last year. But he's still determined to pitch, taking a significant step toward that goal Wednesday by throwing a 20-pitch bullpen session consisting of all fastballs in Kansas City.

"It went good, really good," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The look on his face and the intensity with which he threw would suggest he wants to pitch.

"Obviously we're going to be careful and make sure every step along the way he's healthy, but I think there's a good chance at this point that we can get him in a game or two."

Gray, who has been on the disabled list with a strained forearm since Aug. 7, will attempt to get through a 30-pitch bullpen session utilizing all of his pitches this weekend in Texas. Barring any setbacks, he could be placed in a simulated-type setting his next time out, before the A's decide if he's ready for game action.

Gray will only be stretched out enough to give the A's so many innings should he return, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't be allowed to start. He could still do so and be limited in innings, though the A's have not ruled out the possibility of using him out of the bullpen -- the same role he occupied in his first two big league appearances in 2013.

Gray has since established himself as one of the best starters in the league; even his stumbles this season -- he has a 5.74 ERA in 21 starts -- are largely viewed as an anomaly.

The 26-year-old said this week he "would like to" pitch again this season, and not just because of the way it's been scripted to this point.

"When the injury happened, we hoped to make it back, and I don't think it's changed," Gray said. "I'm still hoping for that to happen. You put all this time and rehab into it to get back into the game. You do all this with the end goal to pitch, not to end on a good note. If the offseason started tomorrow, I would feel just as confident going into next year mentally and physically."

Worth noting

• Right-hander J.B. Wendelken has been unavailable because of forearm tightness, Melvin said.

According to sources, the A's will bring in long relief help on Thursday to offset Wendelken's absence in the bullpen, with plans to add left-hander Dillon Overton to the active roster.

• A's No. 15 prospect Matt Olson, called up Monday for his big league debut, is expected to make his first Major League start at first base in Thursday's finale at Kauffman Stadium.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.