OAKLAND – The A’s now believe it may have been a stomach bug that knocked Sonny Gray out of his Opening Night start Monday, and not food poisoning.
Others on the team have felt similar effects, and the matter was serious enough for head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta to address the team in a meeting Tuesday afternoon about how to take further precaution. The Giants have had a similar illness going through their clubhouse.
Kendall Graveman, Oakland’s No. 4 starter, fell ill Monday night, but A’s manager Bob Melvin said the expectation is that Graveman will be able to make his first start Thursday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.
“I’ve had this Purell dispenser (installed in the dugout) for years. Now everybody doesn’t think I’m so crazy,” Melvin said. “We had Nick address the team and go over what we can do to try and combat that. I think the incubation period goes on and on with this thing. We’re doing the best we can to try and combat it.”
The A’s moved Chris Bassitt up a day to pitch Tuesday night, and Gray will now go Wednesday. He got in a full day of activity Tuesday and reported feeling much better.
“There's been a lot of people getting sick, and for me I think it was just real unfortunate timing that it happened,” Gray said. “It was like a 24-hour bug that a lot of guys have gotten, and I just so happened to get it the wrong day.”
Gray confirmed that he didn’t take the news well Monday afternoon when told that he was being scratched from pitching the opener.
“I tried to lobby to be able to go out there and pitch,” Gray said. “I was getting some fluids and some IVs and stuff yesterday morning trying to get some energy and some hydration back. I was upset or unhappy or whatever you want to say. A lot of people can say they were. I guarantee they weren't more upset than I was.
“… As unfortunate as it was -- Opening Day's an important game -- but in the grand scheme of it, it's one game out of 162. Did it suck? Yeah, kind of. It really did. But there’s nothing you could really do about it.”
Coco Crisp draws the start in center field Tuesday night in place of Billy Burns, a continuation of a pattern that saw Crisp get lots of playing time in Cactus League games. Other than some hamstring tightness that kept him out a few games, the veteran enjoyed a relatively healthy spring.
Melvin has talked often of his preference to get everyone on the 25-man roster involved in games as soon as possible once the regular season starts.
“Everything he’s doing right now looks good, and I just don’t want him sitting around too long,” Melvin said of Crisp. “I want everyone involved. As of today, every (position player) will have had an at-bat. With three lefties (opposing the A’s to start the season), it’s tough to just stick with one lineup.”
Burns was picked off first Monday night by White Sox catcher Dioner Navarro. Burns also appeared to get a late break on a deep fly hit by Adam Eaton that went for a triple. But Melvin said he watched the play several times on video and thought it would have been a very difficult catch.
“The ball really carried,” Melvin said. “A lot of things you’re looking for as a center fielder can fool you. It fooled me.”
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez is scheduled to face hitters Wednesday for the first time since he underwent shoulder surgery in July. Melvin has estimated his timetable for return anywhere between mid-May and early June. There’s a chance that infielder Eric Sogard, on the disabled list with a strained neck, will be one of the hitters facing Alvarez.