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Gray faces Minor Leaguers, remains on track

@m_sheldon
March 19, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In a Minor League game, Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray threw 70 pitches over four innings against mostly Triple-A players for the Indians on Tuesday. Gray, who had his spring interrupted by right elbow stiffness just ahead of the Cactus League opener, still feels right on track

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- In a Minor League game, Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray threw 70 pitches over four innings against mostly Triple-A players for the Indians on Tuesday.

Gray, who had his spring interrupted by right elbow stiffness just ahead of the Cactus League opener, still feels right on track for the regular season.

“Overall, I feel good and got to work on a lot stuff,” Gray said. “It was obviously a little later start to spring than I would have liked but sometimes those things are out of your control. I feel very good and look forward to what’s ahead.”

Later in the day, Reds manager David Bell announced that Gray would start the regular season’s second game vs. the Pirates, on March 30, at Great American Ball Park. Luis Castillo was named the Opening Day starter vs. Pittsburgh on March 28.

Bell has been pleased with what he’s seen from Gray since he returned to pitching. In his two Cactus League starts, he has five scoreless innings.

“It’s been nothing but uphill since he started pitching again. Everything has been great,” Bell said.

Gray went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games last season for the Yankees. He was acquired by the Reds in a January trade and signed to a three-year, $30.5 million contract.

During the tune-up vs. Cleveland, Gray got to face big leaguers Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor.

“I faced them four or five times apiece,” he said. “That got pretty fun there at the end facing those guys over and over.”

Gray also liked working in the Minor League game setting on the back field.

“It’s very different. I think it was very beneficial for me today to throw because you can monitor it a little bit more,” Gray said. “I really needed to go over there and compete always and attack guys and make pitches. I really needed to get over and get a certain amount of innings and build the pitch count up.”

Gray expected to throw 85-90 pitches in his next scheduled start, Sunday vs. the Rockies.

Wisler making a push for bullpen spot
Against the White Sox on Tuesday night, reliever Matt Wisler followed starter Lucas Sims and pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings with one strikeout. Wisler, who is out of options, has a 1.93 ERA through eight appearances this spring.

There are two open spots in the Reds’ bullpen with Wisler having a good chance as he competes against pitchers like Sal Romano, Cody Reed, Wandy Peralta and Ian Krol.

“He definitely is [in contention],” Bell said. “Not because he’s out of options. It’s a factor, but he’s just pitched really well. The velocity is up. I had never had seen him a lot. He’s just had an impressive Spring Training and put himself right there, right in the mix.”

Up next: When the Reds face the Rangers Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. ET in Surprise, Ariz., Tanner Roark is slated to start for Cincinnati. Jared Hughes, Anthony Bass and Peralta are also expected to pitch.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.