"It's about getting guys out and winning games," Gray said before the Oakland Athletics opened a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners. "I have high expectations of myself, and every time I take the mound it's fun. I love my start day. I look forward to it the whole week."
Gray entered May 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA, one shutout and 37 strikeouts in 41 innings over six appearances (including one on March 31). It's his first career Pitcher of the Month honor, and he's the first A's hurler to take the award since Bartolo Colon in June last season.
Gray struck out a career-high nine batters on April 12 against the Mariners, at one point retiring 11 in a row. In his final start of the month, he shut out the Rangers at Globe Life Park, scattering three hits with one walk and six strikeouts for his first career complete game and shutout. It was Oakland's first complete game of the season.
Gray credits former Vanderbilt teammates and current Major League pitchers David Price and Mike Minor, among others, for helping him make an easy transition from college All-American to becoming the A's staff ace.
"I had a support system of guys in pro ball who were in my same spot and went through it before I did," Gray said. "Talking to those guys I felt prepared me for the Majors."
A's manager Bob Melvin was impressed when he was getting to know Gray.
"He's a happy-go-lucky guy who has always been confident since his college days," Melvin said. "He goes out and does his thing. The sky is the limit for him. He's come a long way in a short amount of time. He keeps getting better and better. He came up last year and pitched in some big games, started in the playoffs, and this year he's the Opening Day starter."
Gray said earning the award was exciting, but not something he ever thought about.
"When I look back at the first month of the season, we're in a good spot as a team and I'm glad to be a part of it," Gray said. "First of all, you just dream about pitching in the Major Leagues. And then to be put in a spot to start Opening Day in what is basically my first full season, that's not what I expected. I tried to take it and run with it. I want to compete every time out and continue to get better."
Rick Eymer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.