Gray will not participate in World Baseball Classic

Denial of insurance will keep right-hander off Team USA

Gray will not participate in World Baseball Classic

MESA, Ariz. -- A's ace Sonny Gray will not participate in the World Baseball Classic, after he was denied insurance coverage because of his extended time on the disabled list last year.

According to A's general manager David Forst, Gray was identified as a "chronic-condition player," having spent more than 60 days on the DL last year because of two separate injuries. The provision excuses pitchers who total more than 10 innings after coming off the DL, but Gray only pitched one inning following his return.

Forst said Major League Baseball "pushed the issue, asked the insurance carrier to make an exception to allow him to pitch, and they didn't do it."

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"It's an unfortunate thing, but at the same time it allows me to slow down here and get myself as ready as I can in camp for the beginning of the season," said Gray, who was sidelined by a trapezius strain and then a forearm strain in 2016. "As much as I would have liked to participate and represent the A's and Team USA, there's nothing you can really do other than try to get ready for the season."

With Gray unable to suit up for Team USA, the A's have adjusted his spring schedule, pushing his first Cactus League start to Wednesday against the Padres. He was originally penciled in for a Monday start in opposition of the Giants.

Others were affected too: right-hander Kendall Graveman's first start was switched from Sunday to Monday, opening up a start for No. 7 prospect Daniel Gossett in Sunday's home opener against the Angels.

"We were trying to rush [Gray] a little bit to get him on schedule for that, and in turn, it affected Kendall, too, so the prudent thing to do is give Kendall an extra day and get Sonny back on his regular turn," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Overall, this works out better for them with us, but I know Sonny's disappointed because he really wanted to pitch in the WBC."

"There are different rules in place, and it just didn't work out for me," Gray said. "I would've had a great time, and I would've enjoyed going along and try to compete on a larger scale in spring, but at the same time, it does allow me to get back on track and get a couple more days here and do everything I can to get myself ready to make myself the best pitcher and perform for the A's the best I can."

Gray, who was going to latch on with Team USA in the second round, joins Russell Martin as the second player to be deprived of World Baseball Classic participation because of insurance issues -- and he is the third A's player to cancel Classic plans, with outfielder Khris Davis (Mexico) and reliever Liam Hendriks (Australia) opting out of the tournament.

Pitchers John Axford (Canada) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic) are still participating.

"I know it didn't work out," Gray said, "but just to have the chance to do it and be asked to play is very humbling. Maybe in the future it's something that can work out."

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