Gray on a mission, after another IL stint

September 3rd, 2021

DENVER -- Having dodged serious injury with his right forearm for a second time, Rockies right-hander wants to quickly return. He has goals, one in particular, and is running out of time.

Gray was placed on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, but that term was backdated to Sunday. He is eligible to return next Wednesday against the Giants, which would give him five more starts this season. To that end, Gray said he plans to to face hitters at Coors Field on Friday, for three 15-pitch simulated innings. Manager Bud Black said the session could be moved to Saturday.

Gray’s key goal is linked to his record, which is currently 7-10, and dealing with on-again, off-again forearm pain stands in his way.

“I really can’t complain because there are so many things that are worse, but it’s annoying because I really want to get 10 wins this year, and there are a few other things I want to do,” Gray said. “But I’m really running out of time. I would like to take advantage of these last starts and try not to miss any if I can.”

Ask folks who enjoy modern statistical analysis and the win stat is not deemed important, given that he doesn’t control the defense behind him and his effect on the offense is minimal. Gray understands that.

He also said it would be neat to be the first pitcher in club history with five seasons with double-digit wins. He’s tied with Jorge De La Rosa with four, and Gray is the only one with four straight such seasons (2016-19). But the record book is not necessarily his motivation.

“It’s just, like, memories to me,” Gray said. “I figure if I look back and I have 10 wins, I can look back and remember those 10 times that I was a big reason that we won that game. Sometimes they’re not pretty. Sometimes you can get a win giving up five runs. But even those feel good, because you went out there and battled with stuff you had that really wasn’t on top.”

Gray first went to the IL with what was called a right flexor strain that flared on June 4 against the Athletics. That injury he felt developing during his bullpen sessions. Gray has been in a four-start slump before taking the mound last Saturday at Dodger Stadium and leaving early in the third inning. He was aggressive in his bullpen work before that start and acknowledges its possible it may have led to an injury, but he pinpointed another factor.

“The more I think about it, I was just holding onto the ball too tight,” he said. “During the stressful first inning in L.A., I was squeezing the ball -- I really couldn’t get a grip on it and I put too much stress on myself.

“The only thing I can think of was the weather. I sweat a lot. My hands sweat a lot. The sweat doesn’t absorb into the ball. It kind of stays on the surface. So I have to go to the rosin bag on the road for the most part between every pitch. I don’t know if it’s a sweat problem I’ve got to take care of.”

The backdrop, of course, is Gray and the Rockies are kicking around the idea of a multiyear deal to avert having him explore free agency this offseason. The Rockies and Gray want Gray to be healthy. Gray also wants to be productive, partly to make sure the Rockies feel good about the negotiations and mainly for his peace of mind.

“I still feel like there’s work to be done,” he said. “I had a really good first half of the year, but the way the last four or five games have gone, I’d really like to do a lot better. I hate to end on that kind of a note. These starts are really big for me, and it would really be good for me going into next year.”

Community work
The Rockies conducted their third annual Rockies Charity Night at Coors Field and on AT&T SportsNet on Thursday. Fans had the opportunity to purchase packages filled with player-autographed items. For more information and to see the items, go to

All donations benefit the Colorado Rockies Foundation, and this year’s featured charity, the Gold Crown Foundation.

Additionally, the Rockies joined the rest of the Majors on Wednesday by wearing gold wristbands and a gold logo for Childhood Cancer Awareness Day.