Gray finds way to throw while staying safe

March 26th, 2020

CINCINNATI -- In the age of social distancing to avoid the infection of coronavirus, Reds right-hander Sonny Gray has found a way to keep throwing a baseball.

As he awaits the resumption of Major League Baseball, Gray is keeping his arm in shape at his home in Nashville, Tenn., often throwing at a friend’s farmland behind his house.

“I don’t think there’s a right way here. I don’t think there’s a wrong way here,” Gray told Tommy Thrall on the Reds Hot Stove League radio program. “I actually just played catch now. I’m fortunate to have some friends in the area that know baseball, that play baseball, that have played baseball.”

Gray is able to long toss with Reds catcher and fellow Nashville resident Curt Casali.

“I’m going to meet him probably three times a week, kind of what we’ve been doing, just playing catch and getting outside,” Gray said. “I’m a pretty germaphobe [kind of] guy, so I’ve got my hand sanitizer in my pocket. We’re definitely not hanging out, but playing catch and being together is also something that’s really cool to do at this time. We take the ball but we’re not licking our fingers, we’re not doing all the things [that we normally would]. We’re just kind of playing catch. We’re following the CDC website and all their guidelines they’ve kind of got for us right now.”

Gray, 30, was 11-8 with a 2.87 ERA, 205 strikeouts and 1.08 WHIP over 175 1/3 innings in 31 starts during his first year with Cincinnati. Over his final 16 starts, he went 8-3 with a 1.99 ERA and then he had surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow after his final outing in September. He was fully recovered and ready for Spring Training.

Since the Reds dispersed from Spring Training a couple of weeks ago amid the pandemic, Gray has done various workouts to remain in shape. He has weights, does shoulder maintenance and rides his bike two times per day. The right-hander also bought weighted balls to throw.

“I’ve been throwing in my backyard. I have a tree,” Gray explained. I throw the weighted ball off a tree and then go play catch and then wash your hands. We’ve just been trying to follow the protocol.

“The Reds have done a really good job, they send us a bunch of information of, ‘Hey, this is an option.’ They’re not mandatory saying, ‘This is what you have to do.’ But they’ve just been giving us options, which is cool.”

As for the intensity of his workouts, Gray isn’t dialing it back.

“I’ve kind of kept it to the end of the offseason,” he said. “I’ve been throwing curveballs, I’ve been throwing sliders, I’ve been throwing changeups. I’ve tried to keep it ramped up -- arm-wise -- at a pretty high intensity level.”

Gray, his wife and young son have also worked out as a family via online programs as they wait out the stay-at-home advice of the Centers for Disease Control.

“We’ve been getting a lot of family time,” Gray said. “It’s been OK so far.”