Gray exits in first inning with abdominal strain

Gray exits in first inning with abdominal strain

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jon Gray, a prime candidate for the Rockies' fifth starter spot, was removed from the first inning of his start against the Brewers on Tuesday because of what was determined on Wednesday to be an abdominal strain. The Rockies won the game, 6-5.

An MRI confirmed the strain. The team did not offer a timetable for Gray's return.

Gray becomes the third pitcher battling for that fifth spot in the rotation to be sidelined with an injury this spring. Tyler Anderson has been out with a strained oblique since March 12, and Chris Rusin has yet to pitch in a game this spring because of inflammation in his left index finger.

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"We might not have any decision to make," manager Walt Weiss said of the Rockies injury-ridden candidates for the final rotation slot.

Rusin is scheduled to throw batting practice for the first time this spring in the Minor League camp on Wednesday, when the big league team has an off-day.

David Hale, who was sidelined by a strained right hamstring and made his spring debut by throwing 35 pitches in 1 2/3 innings Monday, is also a candidate for the fifth spot, along with Christian Bergman, who took over for Gray on Tuesday.

Bergman walked three batters in that first inning, but none scored and he was not charged with a run in four innings. He did not walk a batter in his final three innings and gave up one hit.

"He did a nice job of settling down after being put in that situation," said Weiss.

Bergman on strong relief outing

The is no indication as to whether the Rockies would considering bringing right-hander Jeff Hoffman back from the Minor League camp.

Hoffman, the key prospect in the Troy Tulowitzki trade to Toronto last July, was in the big league camp initially as a non-roster invitee.

Gray came to Spring Training considered the leading candidate to fill out the rotation behind Chad Bettis, Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Chatwood and Jordan Lyles.

The Rockies' first-round Draft pick and third player taken overall in 2013, Gray spent the final two months of the 2015 season in the big leagues, starting nine times, but was held to a strict pitch limit. He was 0-2 with a 5.53 ERA, working only 40 2/3 innings. He allowed two or fewer runs in five of the nine starts.

His bid for the big league roster is now on hold.

Scooter Gennett led off the game with a double off Gray, and Ramon Flores walked. Jonathan Lucroy bounced back to the mound, and Gray, trying to start a double play, threw high and wide to second base, after which Weiss and Dugger came to the mound, and Gray was removed.

"He felt something in the oblique on certain pitches to the plate," said Weiss. "When you hear that you take him out. Any time you are dealing with an injury it is not ideal, but this could be worse."

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.