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Rockies lose Gray for season with foot fracture

Right-hander considering offseason surgery, expects to be ready for 2020
@JakeDRill
August 21, 2019

PHOENIX -- When Jon Gray felt nagging pain in his left foot, the Rockies right-hander wanted to get it checked. Gray had sustained a stress fracture in that foot in 2017, and he was now feeling similar pain in the same spot. So several days ago, he had X-rays done

PHOENIX -- When Jon Gray felt nagging pain in his left foot, the Rockies right-hander wanted to get it checked.

Gray had sustained a stress fracture in that foot in 2017, and he was now feeling similar pain in the same spot. So several days ago, he had X-rays done to make sure there wasn’t an issue. And as it turned out, there was one. Gray had sustained another stress fracture in the foot, which he described as a “little crack” in the bone.

On Wednesday, the Rockies placed Gray on the 60-day injured list, ending the right-hander’s season. He was scheduled to start the series finale vs. the D-backs at Chase Field on Wednesday afternoon, so Colorado recalled right-hander Tim Melville from Triple-A Albuquerque to take the mound. Melville delivered a gem, giving up just one run on two hits over seven innings in the Rockies' 7-2 win.

“I could kind of feel some pain that just wasn’t really going away,” Gray said. “It was kind of dull, it wasn’t going away and it felt similar to what happened two years ago. …

“I kind of wrote it off because it didn’t feel as painful as before. It was there, and it was kind of in my mind. But I just wanted to get it checked out to make sure it was OK so I didn’t push on it, and sure enough, it’s there.”

Gray said he felt the pain return during his start at San Diego on Aug. 8. He was scratched from his next start with left ankle soreness, which was related to this injury. Then, it continued to bother Gray when he faced the Marlins last Friday, although he pitched eight scoreless innings.

When Gray sustained the stress fracture in 2017, he never underwent surgery. He said it healed, but the crack that was still there caused the pain to resurface. Gray’s foot has improved over the past week, but not enough for him to continue to pitch through the issue.

“It was really sore at first, but it got a little bit better,” Gray said. “But it still wasn’t the same, I could tell. We just wanted to make sure, because it was too similar of a feeling.”

Gray said he is leaning toward undergoing surgery to fix the fracture this time. Even if he does, he doesn’t anticipate it affecting his offseason work or the start of his 2020 season.

Injuries have plagued the Rockies over the past week. Right-handed reliever Scott Oberg (blood clot) was moved to the 60-day injured list on Monday, ending his season. On Tuesday, left-handed starter Kyle Freeland sustained a left groin strain that will likely send him to the IL as well.

Now, Colorado will also be without Gray, who went 11-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). It was a strong bounce-back campaign after he posted a 5.12 ERA in 31 starts in 2018.

“I’m really happy with the way things have been going, the way I’ve been able to help the team this year,” Gray said. “But there’s still some room to grow.”

For Rockies manager Bud Black, there’s disappointment that Gray won’t have the opportunity to finish his strong year over the final six weeks of the season.

“Personally, that’s what is the bummer for me,” Black said. “Just to build on what he did this year and to really finish strong and feel confident about how he threw the ball and some of the things that we talked about that he needed to get over the hump with, I think he did. I still feel that way, but it would’ve been nice [for Gray] to go the distance.”

Jake Rill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JakeDRill.