PITTSBURGH — Sonny Gray's arrival in the Oakland clubhouse is, for lack of a better description, a September callup come early.

The A's had a roster spot open because, thanks to the All-Star break next week, they didn't need fifth starter Dan Straily to pitch again until July 23.

And they had former first-round draft pick Gray throwing lights-out for Triple-A Sacramento.

``I woke up early (Tuesday) and I was thinking that we had an opportunity here,'' general manager Billy Beane said. ``This is a chance for him to get his feet wet now.''

Straily very probably comes back on the 23rd and Gray probably goes down at the same time, but the A's see Gray's permanent future in Oakland not all that far off.

Vanderbilt’s pitcher Sonny Gray throws during an NCAA college regional baseball tournament game against Belmont on Friday, June 3, 2011, in
Vanderbilt's pitcher Sonny Gray throws during an NCAA college regional baseball tournament game against Belmont on Friday, June 3, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mike Strasinger)

``We expect going forward that he's going to be here,'' Beane said. ``This is a good chance for a learning experience.''

Gray is certainly taking it that way. He has been starting at Sacramento and he's seen as a starter long-term, but for the moment he'll be learning what it's like to pitch out of the bullpen. With Wednesday's series finale in Pittsburgh having a chance of being interrupted by rain, that chance could even come on his first day in the big leagues.

``I pitched in relief half a season in college (Vanderbilt) and again in spring training,'' he said. ``I feel comfortable. I'll try to get to make the adjustment to warming up quickly for however long I'm here.''


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Manager Bob Melvin will do his best to help. A former catcher, Melvin has seen plenty of starters struggle to make the adjustment.

``If possible I'd like to get him in there to start an inning,'' the manager said. ``And this is a very good group to learn from in the bullpen. It's a good, tight-knit group, and they are welcoming.''