Gray ahead of season debut: 'Let's go'

Despite early K showcase, De León heads to bullpen

April 15th, 2021

The Reds have set their rotation for the weekend home series vs. Cleveland with Jeff Hoffman starting Friday, Sonny Gray on Saturday and Wade Miley on Sunday.

Gray will be activated from the 10-day IL to make his 2021 regular-season debut. He missed the start of the year after he dealt with a mid-back muscle strain during Spring Training. After having thrown a game at the alternate site in Louisville and throwing 84 pitches to hitters in a simulated game last Saturday in Phoenix, he will have no limitations when he faces Cleveland.

“When you come back, you hit the ground running -- let’s go. That’s kind of where we’re at with that,” Gray said. “It was a really good thing to build up to get to your first outing. It was a good situation. It was as competitive as possible.

“I think the best day for myself and for us was to come back and get going on Saturday. It was good to be in Arizona and throw the sim game; I felt really good coming out of it. I threw a bullpen [Tuesday] once I knew the day I was going to be starting -- I threw a good bullpen. I have a couple of days here, finish this game here, go back home, have an off-day to get settled in and be ready to go.”

De León to the bullpen
With Gray returning, right-handed pitcher José De León is moving to the bullpen to be a long reliever. De León has 18 strikeouts over only 9 1/3 innings in two starts, but he was roughed up during Sunday’s 7-0 loss at Arizona. He allowed six earned runs, eight hits, three walks and two homers in 4 1/3 innings.

“It could be an exciting opportunity for him. He has a real chance to help us out of the bullpen,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He can always go back into the rotation if needed, too. He’s very built up and that’s not going to go away any time in the next few weeks.”

Akiyama update
Injured outfielder Shogo Akiyama (left hamstring strain) is continuing to progress at the Louisville alternate training site. Bell said that Akiyama pretty much has no restrictions, but he has intentionally not been running at 100 percent intensity yet.

“We’re pushing him a little bit harder now,” Bell said. “He’s going to start playing in games in the next 7-10 days. He’s getting live at-bats, he’s doing everything but the game action. Still on track for the first week of May -- if everything continues to go well, [he'll] rejoin us sometime in early May.”