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Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray, facing two controversies in one night: 'I'm comfortable with who I am'

A rough night for New York Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray didn’t end when he was removed from Wednesday’s game against the lowly Baltimore Orioles after giving up eight hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings.

Following his team’s 7-5 loss, Gray had to face questions from reporters on two controversial matters: the broad smile he wore on his face as he left the mound with boos raining down on him from the Yankee Stadium crowd; and a questionable tweet from his past that referenced someone’s race.

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Regarding why he was grinning after a poor performance, Gray said: "That's how I handle things. I've done that my whole life. 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."

New York Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray, left, reacts as he leaves the game during the third inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 1 in New York. The Orioles won 7-5.
New York Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray, left, reacts as he leaves the game during the third inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 1 in New York. The Orioles won 7-5. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

Gray, 28, might have foreshadowed the incident in a 2009 tweet about then-Philadelphia pitcher Pedro Martinez.

“You have to be really good to get all of Yankee stadium to boo you as you’re walking off the mound … and a hall of famer to smile about it,” Gray wrote at the time.

But that’s not the tweet from Gray’s past that he was asked about Wednesday night. Instead it was one from 2012 directed toward former teammate Rashun Dixon, who went by the Twitter handle @Sir_Peanut (the account has since been deactivated).

It read: “1. You didn’t go to college 2. You are black.”

The tweet resurfaced during Wednesday’s game. Gray’s Twitter account was briefly deactivated afterward and returned without the questionable tweet.

Gray told reporters the tweet was in reference to an inside joke between him and Dixon, and it was “ridiculous” for anyone to think otherwise.

“I’m comfortable with who I am,” Gray said. “You can ask anyone in this clubhouse who I am and what I’m about. … If people are trying to dig stuff up, then ask [Dixon]. If people are gonna try to question my integrity and question who I am, then so be it, because I know who I am and if you know me, you know who I am.”

The controversy came days after Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb and Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner issued apologies after offensive tweets from their past had resurfaced. Last month, Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader found himself in a similar position after pitching in the All-Star game.

But Gray said his situation is different.

“My past has helped shape who I am today,” Gray said. “If people want to question who I am, like I said, 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 made me a better man.”

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