Gray impressed by Rockies' young arms

Opening Day starter out with foot injury, hopes to shed boot soon

Gray impressed by Rockies' young arms

DENVER -- The boredom and anxiousness that right-hander Jon Gray experiences while waiting for the navicular stress fracture in his left foot to heal is tempered by his excitement over the young pitchers who are carrying the Rockies' starting rotation.

Gray, who hopes to lose the walking boot after a follow-up exam Monday, said, "It's really good to see -- [Antonio] Senzatela and [Kyle] Freeland, especially, the way they mix pitches, the way they talk about how their stuff is going to work against lineups."

Gray said Senzatela (4-1, 2.84 ERA) and Freeland (3-1, 2.65 ERA) are more advanced than he was when he debuted in August 2015. Gray became a productive Major Leaguer a few starts into last season.

"I wanted to pound the [strike] zone, but I didn't really know how my stuff worked, and I had to learn how to use them the best way," Gray said. "Those guys are doing a great job so far."

Senzatela hurls six solid frames

Gray (0-0, 4.38 ERA in three starts before the injury) is keeping his arm in shape by throwing at 90 feet, even though he is not allowed to stride because it could put pressure on the foot.

"I try to let my arm go as fast as I can without using my lower half much," he said. "I can still get good work out of it."

Gray's modified weight training program allows him to strengthen the right leg, which is his plant leg, and his upper body, but he can't do cardiovascular work. The big concern for Gray is keeping up his strength.

"We're keeping a log of what I eat, and we've got a certain base calorie diet, and we try to hit that every single day," Gray said. "They have me eating a lot right now to get the right nutrients to heal."

Freeland's strong performance

Worth noting

• Righty Jeff Hoffman, the Rockies' No. 2 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, was named Triple-A Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week, after he held Las Vegas to one hit with eight strikeouts in seven innings, retiring the last 10 batters he faced.

Hoffman followed that performance on Wednesday by striking out five and holding El Paso to two earned runs on four hits in six innings. Hoffman is 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA in six starts, and is tied for fifth in the PCL with 29 strikeouts (in 34 innings).

• Moving to various positions has not hurt Ryan McMahon, the Rockies' No. 8 prospect. McMahon earned Double-A Eastern League Player of the Month honors by hitting .375 (30-for-80) with eight doubles, two triples, four home runs, 20 RBIs, 12 runs, a .422 on-base percentage and a .675 slugging percentage over 20 games. Adding three games this month, he is hitting .359.

McMahon, 22, has made 11 starts and two other appearances at first base, seven games and six starts at second base and five starts at third base.

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.