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Rockies Opening Day starter Jon Gray “comfortable getting creative”

Gray’s not just ready for Opening Day, he’s ready for the whole dang season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz – Jon Gray has been named the Opening Day starter for the second year in a row. Last year on Opening Day against the Milwaukee Brewers, he pitched 4.0 innings and gave up five runs (all earned) on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. After an up and down season interrupted by a broken foot, Gray ended 2017 in the National League Wild Card Game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. During that particular game, he lasted 1.1 innings and gave up four runs (all earned) on seven hits with two strikeouts in the eventual 11-8 loss. It wasn’t very pretty. He even admitted that he tried to do too much and didn’t treat it just like any other game. However, he’s not trying to dwell on that game and is instead learning from it.

“I want to remember the good things about it, remember the way it felt,” he said. “That way I can better prepare myself for next time since I know we’re going to be in a lot more of those types of games.”

The work has been more obvious over the last few days. After spending his first few starts of spring training solely focusing on mechanical things such as delivery and holding runners, Gray really went at it in his final few games, allowing five hits and a walk without giving up any runs and striking out eleven in his final 9.1 innings of spring.

Gray attributed that success to experience and comfort—something he says that he has in 2018 that he didn’t have as much of in 2017: “I have the comfortability now to be really creative out there and almost make one pitch two different pitches. I think that’s going to help a lot. Guys are seeing two different sliders, two different curveballs, two different fastballs. It’s kinda tough to make adjustments to those. I’m gonna be a fighter and get after them.”

Let’s hope the lessons of the past have paid off and that the hard offseason work will pay dividends on Thursday when he takes the mound once again against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

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And, if you happen to be in town for that game, the Diamondbacks have a host of Opening Day festivities happening around Chase Field starting at 4:00pm (3 hours before first pitch at 7:10pm). If you want to get there even earlier, Game 7 Grill across the street will open at 2:00pm. The festivities include, but are not limited to:

  • Opening Day street festival with food trucks, inflatables, and live music
  • Presentations of the National League Manager of the Year Award to manager Torey Lovullo, a Silver Slugger Award to Diamondbacks’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and Gold Glove Awards to Goldschmidt and starting pitcher Zack Greinke
  • The national anthem sung by Roger Clyne, who sings “D-backs Swing” at the end of every Diamondbacks home victory
  • An F-16 flyover from the 309th Fighter Squadron from Luke Air Force Base at the end of the anthem
  • A ceremonial first pitch by members of all six Diamondbacks postseason teams:
  • 1999 - Erubiel Durazo
  • 2001 - Luis Gonzalez
  • 2002 - Mark Grace
  • 2007 - Brandon Webb
  • 2011 - JJ Putz
  • 2017 - Archie Bradley

Even if you’re attending as a Rockies fan, I highly recommend getting there early to see all of the fun Opening Day festivities! The pageantry of any Opening Day is second to none and I hope you take advantage of it! Diamondbacks fans are (usually) pretty warm and welcoming so you shouldn’t have any trouble enjoying yourself before the real fun gets started. Most of all though, just have fun!