Sonny Gray starts Oakland opener against Indians

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm •  Published: March 30, 2014
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Sure, Sonny Gray gained some nice momentum from that impressive pitcher's duel with Detroit ace Justin Verlander last October.

Gray insists any highlights from his remarkable rookie season — he made all of 12 major league appearances and 10 starts — mean nothing now as he prepares to take the ball for the two-time defending AL West champion Oakland Athletics on opening day at home Monday night against Cleveland.

After Jarrod Parker was lost to season-ending Tommy John elbow surgery late in spring training, Gray assumed the top spot in the rotation.

Justin Masterson will make his third straight opening day start for the Indians, but perhaps his last.

"I'm really honored to get the opportunity, but at the same time I'll go out with high expectations," Gray said. "It'll be a really fun day."

Gray will be leaving his share of tickets, too: for his grandma, aunt and uncle, a cousin, mom and stepdad, girlfriend and two buddies from back home in Tennessee.

"For most of them it's their first time in Oakland," Gray said.

Justin Masterson will make his third straight opening day start for the Indians, but perhaps his last.

Masterson avoided arbitration and agreed to a $9,762,500 salary for 2014, but can become a free agent after the season. The sides never reached a new multi-year deal during the offseason ad cut off talks for now.

"Yeah, this is the third time I've been able to do this and I take ownership of it every time," said Masterson, who won a career-high 14 games last year. "I've been trying to lead this staff for more than just the last couple years. This just kind of solidifies that position to be able to go out and be the leader, set the tone and no matter what happens, set a good example."

The grounds crew will be hopping, as it could be a long day given the forecast for steady rain. Wet weather already canceled the finale of Oakland's preseason Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.

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