Gray progressing after abdominal strain

Rookie righty expected to throw light bullpen session Wednesday

Gray progressing after abdominal strain

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Abdominal injuries for pitchers are tricky, and they come with warnings about not rushing. But Rockies rookie righty Jon Gray is looking at throwing a light bullpen session Wednesday, eight days after suffering a strain during a game against the Brewers.

Gray, the No. 3 overall Draft pick in 2013 who's expected to be part of the Rockies' rotation coming into the spring, has played long-toss three times. He extended to 120 feet on Tuesday morning.

"I've thrown three days now, and made progress every time and feeling a lot better," Gray said. "I may throw light off the mound tomorrow. If not, it'll be in the next couple of days."

Gray began feeling pain before the start against the Brewers. Although he left the game after a fielding play, the bigger problem was that he could feel it when throwing off-speed pitches. It didn't affect him on his fastball.

"I can tell there's a little tightness, but the pain is gone, so that's good -- I don't feel like it's restricting me at all," he said. "I mixed in a few [off-speed pitches] today and really liked it."

Gray, 24, had a 3.86 ERA with six strikeouts and eight walks in five Spring Training appearances. He was at his best on March 17, when he curtailed experimentation with a new curveball and attacked the Angels for four scoreless innings, with three hits, three strikeouts and a walk.

Last year, Gray was 6-6 with a 4.33 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) at Triple-A Albuquerque before the Rockies introduced him to the Majors through nine tightly controlled starts (0-2, 5.53 ERA).

With Gray expected to begin the regular season on the 15-day disabled list, the Rockies are contemplating filling his slot. There is a possibility they won't need five starters until mid-April. Righty long reliever Christian Bergman and lefty Chris Rusin, who is building his pitch count after missing much of the spring with left middle finger inflammation, are current options.

Worth noting:
• Right-hander Antonio Senzatela, who led Class A California League qualifiers with a 2.51 ERA -- that loop's lowest such mark in more than a decade -- was announced Tuesday as the Rockies' Doug Million Minor League Player of the Year for 2015. In four pro seasons, Senzatela, 21, is 37-18 with a 2.50 ERA with 333 strikeouts against 99 walks. In Tuesday's 6-1 win over the D-backs, Senzatela went five scoreless innings, giving up five hits, one walk and striking out two to earn the save. The Doug Million Award has been presented since 1992. Past winners include Todd Helton (1997), Brad Hawpe (2002) and Jeff Francis (2004).

Also, Rockies Latin American field coordinator Edison Lora was named the recipient of the second annual P.J. Carey Player Development Award. Lora is entering his 10th year in his position, which includes coordinating all aspects of development in the Dominican Republic and assisting the pitching director and pitching coordinator during Spring Training and instructional programs.

• Rockies righty starter Tyler Chatwood turned in a dominant performance against Salt Lake City, the Angels' Triple-A affiliate. Chatwood lasted seven innings and threw 84 pitches, and he yielded one run on three hits with four strikeouts and no walks.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.