Gray's back improves, so he hopes to start Monday for A's

BALTIMORE (AP) Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray could return from a nagging back injury as soon as Monday.

The right-hander was scratched from his scheduled start against Toronto on Thursday after experiencing back spasms Wednesday.

Trainers treated him with muscle relaxants and a massage. On Thursday, he reported no pain after throwing for five minutes from 75 feet.

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Before the A's faced the Orioles on Friday, Gray said, ''Thankfully it's really kind of progressing better and better. I threw, and it really couldn't have went any better.''

Gray is 12-4 with a 2.06 ERA.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Gray will throw a bullpen session Saturday, and has ruled out the possibility of the disabled list.

Melvin says, ''If everything feels good, then we'll pick a date for him. The earliest would be Monday.''