When the Yankees' brain trust considered names to fill in for the injured CC Sabathia on Wednesday, one name did not come up: Sonny Gray’s.
Instead, Aaron Boone said Luis Cessa will make the spot start against the Rays. Sabathia, who went on the 10-day disabled list Monday with right knee inflammation, hopes to miss only the one start. Sabathia said he feels much better after having the knee drained Monday.
Gray’s exile to the bullpen appears to be permanent. He was acquired at last year’s trade deadline to be a difference maker in the rotation. Instead, he’ll be a use-only-in-case-of-emergency arm in the pen.
Asked Tuesday if he still stretched out enough to start, Gray said: “I don’t know. I guess so. I wasn’t a part of [the decision] at all. I don’t even know who’s pitching. Obviously, it’s not up to me. I don’t know.”
Asked if he was working on anything on the side with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to help reclaim his rotation spot, Gray said: “No.”
Gray, who is 9-8 with a 5.52 ERA in 23 games, has made two relief appearances since his last start Aug. 1. On Aug. 7, he got the win by throwing three scoreless innings in a 13-inning victory over the White Sox. Five days later, Gray allowed five hits and two runs in one-plus innings against Texas.
“It’s a role that – as we’ve told him – you never know what to expect on a given day,” Boone said. “It’s an important one for our bullpen, and if he can do it well, it really helps us.”
It doesn’t look as if Gary Sanchez (groin strain) will be back ahead of the stated late August /early September timetable. While he said he doesn’t feel any pain, Sanchez also said through a translator: “I haven't been running 100 percent out there on the field yet. I think the real test is going to come when I play in games. If I hit a ground ball and push myself, I think that's where the real test is going to be.” . . . Aaron Judge (wrist) took Tuesday off from rehab. Said Boone: “Hoping at some point this week he’ll have a bat in his hands.”