Yankees' Sonny Gray says tweet 'an inside joke' directed at a friend

ByColey Harvey ESPN logo
Thursday, August 2, 2018

NEW YORK -- For nearly three innings Wednesday, New York Yankees starter Sonny Gray turned in one of his worst pitching outings he has had in what has been an inconsistent season.

His day got worse from there.

As he walked off the mound just 2 innings into the Yankees' 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, cameras caught Gray smiling as he was mercilessly booed by the more than 47,000 who attended the game at Yankee Stadium.

Moments later, an old tweet emerged in which Gray referenced another Twitter user's race.

After Wednesday's game, Gray called the tweet "an inside joke" that was directed atRashun Dixon, whom he played with while in the Oakland organization and whose brother Anthony played in the NFL. Gray, who is white, wrote in September 2012: "@Sir_Peanut 1. You didn't go to college. 2. You are black. #followdaleaderleaderleader clap clap clap."

The @Sir_Peanut account has been deactivated. For a time during Wednesday's game, Gray's Twitter account was down before coming back up. Gray said he has been hacked in the past and acknowledged that someone else currently helps run his account.

The tweet in question has been deleted, but another reply to @Sir_Peanut remains from the same day as the other message.

Gray's questionable tweet comes on the heels of the recent unearthing of past racist and anti-gay tweets that other major league players posted when they were teenagers. Milwaukee's Josh Hader, Washington's Trea Turner and Atlanta's Sean Newcomb have all come under fire for their past social media usage in recent days.

"I'm not scared of my past. My past has helped shape who I am today," said Gray, who was 22 when his tweet was posted. "If people want to try and question who I am, I'll face that head on because I'm not scared of my past. Everything that's happened in my past has done nothing but make me a better man."

Although he rattled off three straight wins in his last three starts in July, compiling a 1.10 ERA and allowing just nine hits, he was back to some of his old ways Wednesday against the Orioles.

In the short outing, Gray allowed seven runs and eight hits. All the damage was done after he sailed through a smooth, 13-pitch first inning.

Because Gray has struggled in the past (this is the sixth time Gray has allowed five or more earned runs in less than four innings in a game this season; no other Yankee has ever had that many outings in a season), manager Aaron Boone indicated he might consider reshuffling the starting rotation.

"We do have some options now," Boone said. "We'll all get together and try and come up with the best solution, the best options going forward that's going to help us win. In the end, that's what it's about.

"So we're not going to be emotional about it right now. We'll get together and we'll talk through this and see what the best thing is."

The acquisition ofLance Lynnbefore the trade deadline could allow the Yankees to replace Gray in the rotation. Placed in the bullpen after arriving in New York on Tuesday night, Lynn could become an emergency starter or a long reliever, Boone had previously said.

With the Yankees staring at a 7-1 deficit when Gray was taken out of this latest game, Lynn came in and threw 4 innings of solid scoreless relief. He allowed just five hits and had five strikeouts.

Before Lynn toed the rubber, though, Gray drew the fans' ire as he flashed a grin as boos echoed throughout the stadium.

"That's how I handle things. I've done that my whole life," Gray said of the smile. "When you get put in a hole like that as a team, as many times as I've done that to us this year, it's a frustrating spot to be in. That's kind of how I handled the situation. It's kind of how I tell myself to move on and not think about it and not let [bad performances] get to you.

"I've never in my whole life been a guy when things aren't going his way and when you get hit around, I've never been a guy to come off the field and throw a glove or throw a hat and punch something or do anything. I've always been a mellow guy that tries to think things through and get over it and move on."

While Gray may not have been exploding with emotion, third-base coach Phil Nevin was.

Just before the game went into a rain delay in the bottom of the third inning, Nevin was caught by cameras yelling in the Yankees' dugout. In the first two innings, the Yankees were rather lackadaisical defensively, just missing coming up with a couple of ground balls, or not getting over to bases in time for what should've been relatively easy force outs.

That all bugged him.

"When you go through this over the course of 162 games, you use different ways to fire the guys up, and I don't think I need to tell you guys, we're a lot better than we did [Wednesday]," Nevin said to reporters. "That was it. It wasn't directed at any one person or one thing. It was, 'Let's go.' That's it."

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