Rockies' Gray eases 'dead arm' concerns

Rookie starter bounces back with 7 innings vs. Blue Jays

Rockies' Gray eases 'dead arm' concerns

DENVER -- Before rookie right-hander Jon Gray excited the Rockies with seven strong innings in Monday's 9-5 victory over the Blue Jays, he did something more important -- he gave them a sigh of relief.

Gray left his previous start, a no-decision against the Yankees, after four scattershot innings because of right arm fatigue. Gray, 24, assuaged any fear by pitching at full strength from the start Monday, and he struck out eight and gave up four runs and five hits in the win.

In most of his starts, Gray (5-3, 4.83 ERA, 83 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings) has shown why the Rockies took him third overall in the 2013 Draft. The Rockies are looking to establish their pitching now and for years to come, and they can ill afford seeing one of their shining prospects pitch himself into an injury.

Gray greatly reduced his work between starts and arrived for Monday fresh.

"We just took everything light this week -- my [velocity] was good, and I felt strong," Gray said.

The only experience Gray had with "dead arm" was in August 2014 at Double-A Tulsa. He tried throwing more between starts in an effort to reawaken the strength, but all that did was make his arm worse and leave the Rockies with no choice but to shut him down for the season.

Taking the opposite approach made sense to Gray and the Rockies, but the only way to know for sure was to see how his arm reacted Monday.

"You're always concerned when you have to take a pitcher out after four innings and he doesn't look right," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The fact that he went out there last night and threw the way he did, it's a relief.

"One encouraging sign after his last outing was he wasn't in pain. So there wasn't an acute injury. He just didn't feel right."

Worth noting

• Outfielder Gerardo Parra, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain, felt pain when he tried running on Monday. He is done wearing a walking boot and had been running for three days in water, but the team will scale back his rehab process before moving on to agility and plyometric drills.

• The Rockies delayed posting a lineup Tuesday until shortstop Trevor Story, who suffered a right middle finger bruise when hit by a pitch Sunday, tested his throwing during batting practice. Story was cleared to start. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who suffered a left knee contusion Sunday, targeted Wednesday afternoon's game for his return.

• Outfielder Ryan Raburn was slated to start Tuesday but was scratched because of illness. Thus ended the rest day for center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who has appeared in every game and started all but one since his May 8 return from turf toe.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. Ben Weinrib contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.