Colorado Rockies: Gray, Dahl and Murphy gain different perspective on disabled list
By Ben Macaluso
Jon Gray’s left foot feels a lot lighter these days. The weight has been lifted after he ditched his boot this series against the Cardinals. While Gray, the Colorado Rockies ace, is still taking precautions, it is a sign that he is recovering on schedule from a foot stress fracture that has been bothering him since spring training.
It is a reminder that the Rockies are performing well even without their Opening Day starter, their projected starting left fielder in David Dahl and their secondary catcher with a power bat, Tom Murphy. Not to mention Chad Bettis their 2016 wins leader. If a core like this was on the DL in year’s past, the Rockies would struggle.
The Rockies have done anything but in 2017. Gray has gained a different perspective just watching his team.
"“It’s a whole change of attitude is what I’m seeing. It seems like the chemistry has been a lot better. We know we are good. Guys know that now. There is not that doubt. Guys are showing off now,” Gray said."
Even before Gray went on the disabled list, he took a mentorship role with this young pitching staff. That has only amplified in his time off. The Gray Wolf talks incessantly with his fellow starters about what they would through to hitters and why. The righty is picking up mechanics from his teammates just as much as they are listening to him.
"“It sucks [the injury] happened but taking a step back and not being able to pitch for this team and watching a bunch of other guys step up and do it give me a really good feeling,” he said. “The young starters know exactly what they need to do to be successful. [Makes me feel a little better about my situation.]”"
As for David Dahl, he never anticipated his stress reaction to his rib would last this long. He said that the team playing well motivates him to get back soon. He has been on the DL in 2013 and then in 2015. Those previous stints gave him perspective about this injury stint but he said that this experience has been different.
"“It’s helped me but it’s a little different. Being up here on the DL my injury lasting as long as it has it’s been pretty frustrating. Mentally it’s been a lot harder this time around, he said. “I thought [this injury] would be something that could go pretty quickly but that wasn’t the case so that’s why it’s pretty frustrating.”"
Being in the clubhouse keeps Dahl motivated. He has noticed that this year everyone is really close and gelling well. He is picking his teammate’s brains more than he did when he was a rookie and just trying to keep his head down. Dahl is a prime example that preparation doesn’t wain on the disabled list. He has been studying how pitchers throw to lefties on the Rockies. That has led to watching Charlie Blackmon step in the box. Not a bad guy to emulate.
Tom Murphy relies on good preparation to bounce back from his forearm fracture injury. Every game he goes through his normal video work on hitters. He writes notes on those batters so when it he does come back, this routine will help him step in whenever he is need.
Murphy has been in the majors twice before but they were both September call ups at the end of the 2015 and 16 seasons. A common theme with the guys on the DL is that they all see more confidence in the clubhouse. Murphy said this is a happier clubhouse than the ones he has seen in the past where guys were just padding their stats and not competing for the division like they are now.
The early success should be attributed to this young pitching staff that Murphy has seen long before anyone up in Denver. But even he hasn’t seen these pitchers like this before.
"“I think they’ve had better composure here than they ever did in the minor leagues,” Murphy said when asked about pitchers Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, and German Marquez. “They’ve created a challenge amongst themselves to go out there and to make sure that a frustrating situation for them isn’t going to dictate their whole outing and it’s been really incredible they haven’t had a snowball outing yet.”"
These three players have not let the disabled list stop their growth and preparation. Manager Bud Black has taken notice.
"“They’ve done a nice job of hanging in there,” Black said about his players on the DL. “What I’ve liked is the energy they’ve brought to the field. There could be a tendency for guys to hang their head, have a pity party. These guys haven’t man. They have been enthusiastic, they’ve brought energy, they’ve worked hard in the weight room. They’ve been encouraging to their teammates, they have been visible. They’re ready to get back to it. So these guys have done a nice job of being unselfish at a point where you can sort of be selfish. They haven’t.”"
Next: Colorado Rockies: Mark Reynolds talks All-Star ballot absence
The Rockies have the best start through 50 games in franchise history. That is without Gray, Dahl and Murphy. Imagine what this team can do with all of them back.