By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. — 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 2-time defending AL West champion Oakland Athletics on opening day at home tonight 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.
“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.