Ray impresses with 'max effort,' ready to go

July 6th, 2020

PHOENIX -- reported for Spring Training in February having reworked his body, and he told D-backs manager Torey Lovullo at the time that he was immediately ready to throw five innings.

When Lovullo talked with Ray last week, the left-hander delivered a similar message. He then showed Lovullo exactly what he meant when he faced hitters Sunday afternoon at Chase Field.

“He said that he was ready to start a baseball season, and he backed that up,” Lovullo said. “His stuff was extremely aggressive. He was throwing balls to both sides of the plate, great depth on certain breaking balls. It wasn’t perfect, nor do we expect it to be, but for [his first outing], it was outstanding.”

Ray, who will become a free agent following this season, stayed in the Phoenix area while baseball was shut down, but he continued to throw and work. On Tuesdays and Fridays, he threw off a mound at Salt River Fields.

“I know I could pitch in a game right now,” Ray said. “My arm, my body, everything feels really good. Like I said, I threw around 80 pitches today in live BP, and it was pretty much max effort. Hopefully, I can get some simulated games in against our guys. It shouldn’t really take me very long.”

Ray said he didn’t consider not pitching this year and that he's "here as long as they’ll let us play.”

It’s an especially important season for Ray, who will hit the free-agent market for the first time this winter at age 29. Ray knows that how he pitches during the 60-game regular season is going to be important as teams decide what he will be worth going forward.

“I honestly need to pitch this year,” Ray said. “You really don’t know, because nothing like this has really happened before as far as going into a 60-game season. It's going to be different. I’m just approaching it one day at a time, one start at a time, and doing what I can to put myself in a good position.”

Ray dropped weight during the offseason after he remade his diet, greatly reducing his dairy intake. He maintained that during the long layoff while also continuing his workout routine.

“I think he is prepped and ready and worked extremely hard through this long layoff, and that’s hard to do with as much uncertainty as there was,” Lovullo said. “That’s incredible discipline, and he was accountable to what he wanted to get to. Those are some of the things that we stand on here. I think he’s going to be as ready as anybody. Based on what I saw here [Sunday], I’m really excited about it.”

Guerra and Bracho test positive for COVID-19
Lovullo said that relievers Junior Guerra and Silvino Bracho both previously tested positive for COVID-19.

Bracho, who had a setback while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, wasn't included in the D-backs' 60-man player pool. Guerra, who was signed as a free agent in December, has yet to take part in drills since Summer Camp opened Friday.

Lovullo said both players were asymptomatic and doing well.

First game Monday
The D-backs will play their first intrasquad game Monday, and it is scheduled to last 3-5 innings.

“I felt like I’ve seen enough and we’re ready to take the next step forward and play a hot game,” Lovullo said. “Play where there are two teams out there running around the bases doing what we do best.”