Cincinnati Reds: Sonny Gray gets his first start of the spring

GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 19: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait at the Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex on February 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
GOODYEAR, AZ - FEBRUARY 19: Sonny Gray #54 of the Cincinnati Reds poses for a portrait at the Cincinnati Reds Player Development Complex on February 19, 2019 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /
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It’s been a rough start to Sonny Gray’s Cincinnati Reds career, but the right-hander will toe the rubber in tonight’s spring game against the Padres.

The long awaited to debut of Sonny Gray in a Cincinnati Reds uniform will be tonight against the San Diego Padres. One of the Reds’ key acquisitions this offseason has been sidelined for a few weeks with an arm injury, but Gray is slated to be on the mound tonight when the Redlegs go head-to-head with the Friars.

Gray was traded from the New York Yankees to the Cincinnati Reds earlier this offseason. The Reds sent highly-rated prospect Shed Long and a competitive balance pick in this year’s draft to the Bronx Bombers in exchange for Gray.

Long was subsequently traded to the Pacific Northwest and is now a member of the Seattle Mariners, while Gray signed a 3-year/$30.5M extension with Cincinnati and is expected to be a big part of the Reds starting rotation this season and for years to come.

Gray was reunited with his former pitching coach, Derek Johnson, who was his pitching coach while Gray attended Vanderbilt University. Though Gray struggled with the Yankees last season, owning a 4.90 ERA, his worst performances were inside Yankee Stadium. The Reds are hoping a change in scenery and the familiarity with Johnson will help Gray return the 2015 form that saw him go to the All-Star Game as a member of the Oakland A’s.

What can we expect from Gray tonight? I’d be surprised if he threw more than one inning to be honest with you. There’s still plenty of time until the season begins, so there’s no need to rush Gray back into multiple innings of work. Most starters, at this point during the spring, don’t go more than 2-3 innings anyway.

The Cincinnati Reds have made upgrading their rotation one of their biggest priorities this offseason and Gray is the only player that the Reds have added that looks to be part of the team’s long-term plans. Both Alex Wood and Tanner Roark, additions to the rotation, are on expiring contracts and unlikely to return next season.

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All eyes in Reds Country will be on Sonny Gray tonight. Look for a lot of overreaction, regardless of if the results are positive or negative. However, just seeing Gray back on the mound after he was scratched from his first start with elbow stiffness, is a step in the right direction. Hopefully tonight is the first of many outings for Sonny Gray.