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Oakland A's starter Sonny Gray out with lat strain

After a down 2016 season that included a lengthy disabled list stay, Sonny Gray's 2017 season will begin on the DL.

Sonny Gray's 2017 season is off to an ominous start. The right-hander was diagnosed with a mild lat strain and will be shutdown for at least three weeks, the Oakland A's announced on Thursday. The injury announcement comes just two days after Gray allowed seven runs in two innings in an outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser tweeted that Gray isn't expected to make his 2017 regular season debut until late April, at the earliest. With Gray on the shelf, the A's have a big opening at the top of their rotation.

Coming into spring training, Gray and Kendall Graveman were the only two locks for spots in the Opening Day rotation. Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton were strong bets for the third and fourth spots, but the fifth spot was open for competition. With Gray out for the first few weeks of the season, Jesse HahnRaul Alcantara, Frankie Montas and Andrew Triggs will now have two spots to compete for, rather than one. A non-roster pitcher, such as Ross Detwiler or Daniel Gossett, may also get a longer look now, as well.

Gray made only 22 starts and had a 5.69 ERA in 117 innings last year, by far his worst season as a professional. He struck-out only 94 and walked 42. In 2015, Gray had a 2.73 ERA and a 169:59 K:BB in 208 innings spread over 31 starts. Gray had been the subject of trade rumors over the off-season, but trade talk is likely to subside until Gray can show he is healthy for a sustained stretch of time.

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