Colorado Rockies morning after: This is a different Jon Gray
By Kevin Henry
When the Colorado Rockies took the field on Wednesday night, something was different. It was Jon Gray’s turn to start and the Rockies were wearing purple.
There are certain things I can count on in life. When Kyle Freeland is pitching, I can almost bet the Colorado Rockies are going to wear purple. When Gray takes the mound, it will be the white jerseys with purple pinstripes. After all, the starting pitcher gets to pick the uniform worn that day or night and there are certain things that you seemingly just don’t mess with when it comes to uniforms … and maybe just a touch of superstition.
Jon Gray … in purple? That’s a change. It’s symbolic in a way of who the 26-year-old right-hander has been since he returned to the Rockies after being sent to Triple-A in a somewhat surprising move on June 30. He’s seemingly a different pitcher with a different attitude. Colorado manager Bud Black talked about Gray’s focus before the game and his energy after the game.
Something is different with Jon Gray, the same pitcher who gave up five earned runs in four innings in his last start before being optioned to Albuquerque in late June. After all, in the starts since he has returned to the big leagues, he’s allowed two earned runs in 14.1 innings against two of the American League’s hottest teams in Seattle and Houston. Yeah, something is different.
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After the game, Gray stood at his locker and laughed about curveballs and their spin rate and almost being blown over at the plate and on the mound when the Wednesday night wind at Coors Field felt more like what Gray used to feel on the plains of Oklahoma. He joked about wondering if a tornado was nearby. The former Sooner has plenty of experience with the wind coming sweeping down the plains … and wreaking havoc on a baseball game. He shrugged it off … and even said he joked with the umpire about it.
Focus and energy before the game. Laughter and joking after the game. It’s a completely different Gray than I saw in Washington in April when he was in near tears after dropping a decision to the Nationals (allowing five runs in five frames). That pitcher was frustrated and searching for answers. This pitcher is feeling confident and allowed one hit in seven innings of work against the defending World Champions.
It’s a great sign for the Rockies as they continue a tough schedule and try to catch Los Angeles and Arizona in the division. Gray will likely draw his next start on Tuesday in St. Louis, a place that has not been friendly to the Rockies in seasons past. However, with a renewed approach and belief in himself and his abilities, even Busch Stadium may not seem so bad.
By the way, I asked Gray how long it had been since he chose to wear purple. He paused and said it had been a while. So why did he choose purple on Wednesday night? He smiled and turned to his locker and pointed to his shoes. He wanted something to wear that would go with his shoes … so he chose purple. No superstition. No cleansing of spirits past (don’t forget, Gray is a ghost hunter). Just a simple reason to try something different.
Different is good. Just ask Jon Gray and the Rockies.