Gray on pressure to win AL West, offseason changes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The A's posted more errors than hits in Friday night's 3-0 loss to the Giants, but Sonny Gray provided plenty good on an otherwise bad evening.

Oakland's projected Opening Day starter, preparing for his first full big league season, struck out seven in 5 2/3 impressive innings, working his way out of several error-induced jams.

"Everything worked pretty well, and I was able to stay within myself on some tougher innings," Gray said. "That was good for me. I was able to make pitches instead of just ramp it up and throw it as hard as I could. Just make pitches and don't try to do too much."

"He's got the stuff to get out of those jams and the confidence, too," added manager Bob Melvin. "He had a really good two-seamer and changeup, so he's adding to his repertoire and not afraid to work on it, and getting some results. That's added confidence for a guy that's basically four-seam fastball and curveball."

The right-handed Gray, who will make one more exhibition start Wednesday, was pleased with all of his pitches, particularly his signature curveball, as well as a changeup he's been tinkering with for some time. He threw 84 pitches overall, while keeping his side work in mind.

"Not throwing too many balls, that's been a huge focus in the bullpen and my work coming into the starts," he said. "Today it kind of paid off, and I was able to keep my body under control and throw a lot of strikes with all my pitches."

Worth noting

Josh Reddick played just two innings in right field Friday before leaving the game with contact-lens complications. Melvin said the issue was minor and wouldn't affect Reddick going forward.

• Following his alma mater's shocking loss to Mercer University in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, Duke alum Nate Freiman literally wore his loss. The 6-foot-7 Freiman, as part of a bet made with Mercer man Billy Burns, who is 5-foot-9, sported Mercer's orange and black colors around the clubhouse.

"We've seen him in some unique outfits that are tight-fitting before," a smiling Bob Melvin said of Freiman, who dressed as Marge Simpson during last year's rookie hazing day. "And if anyone is a good sport about those things, it's him."

• Rehabbing reliever Fernando Rodriguez, on the mend from Tommy John surgery, threw one inning in a Minor League game Friday, needing just six pitches to get through the frame. It was his first non-simulated game action since undergoing the procedure last spring.