Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray took another step toward rejoining the Rockies on Tuesday afternoon at Coors Field.
Sidelined since suffering a stress fracture in his left foot against the San Francisco Giants on April 13, Colorado’s 25-year-old right-hander threw from the mound for the first time on Tuesday in front of a throng of media and Rockies management. We were there and you can see video of him pitching by clicking here.
Gray shed his walking boot and not only threw off the mound but also fielded bunts and made throws to various bases.
"“This is the first time I’ve moved laterally and side to side working on things. Not feeling pain at all, it’s a good sign. I’m hoping the process isn’t much longer,” Gray said.“It felt good to move around and field some bunts and stuff. I didn’t feel much pain or anything like that. Everything is looking like it’s shaping up the right way. I just can’t wait to get out there.”"
Colorado manager Bud Black liked what he saw from Gray on Tuesday afternoon.
"“Jon threw the ball fine,” Black said. “The takeaway was sort of what we expected. We’ve seen Jon for three weeks throwing. The arm looked great. Now it’s just a matter of getting Jon into baseball shape. Getting his legs underneath him. Getting the strength back in the calf. Get him feeling confident in the foot. It takes a little bit of time but he’s off to a good start based on what we saw today.”"
Black said the Rockies have not scheduled Gray’s next simulated game, adding he wanted to see how Gray feels tomorrow after pitching today.
Gray said one thing he needed to work after his time on the mound on Tuesday was moving his fastball inside.
"“The more and more I see hitters in the box, the easier it gets. Today I couldn’t really blow them back off the plate,” Gray laughed. “It felt really good to get back on the mound again. To actually see hitters in there was a little different but the more and more it went on, the more it felt like a game.”"
Gray said he believed he would need just a couple of rehab starts to get back to joining the Colorado rotation. Black wasn’t as concerned about the number of starts as the amount of pitches Gray can throw.
"“Probably pitch count,” Black said when asked about when he’ll know Gray is ready. “That’s the determining factor. We have to get him to a certain level where he’s comfortable going into a big league game if he’s able to pitch past six innings and into the seventh.”"
Black said that number would be around 80 or 90 pitches.
"“That should get you well over halfway through a game,” Black said."
Gray is hoping that Tuesday’s action will bring him one step closing to pitching for the Rockies again.
"“It’s been a hard process,” Gray admitted. “It was a little bit of a strange deal and I was kind of upset about it. But watching the guys carry on through the season the way they have, it lifts you up. It’s really good to see.”"