Toe­hold on start up­ended?

Jon Gray, who has been lined up to pitch on open­ing day, tweaked the big digit on his left foot Fri­day.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Groke

SCOTTS­DALE, ARIZ.» Jon Gray, angling to­ward an open­ing-day start for the Rock­ies at Mil­wau­kee, ex­ited dur­ing the third in­ning of a Cac­tus League game against the Gi­ants on Fri­day with what the club is call­ing a sore big toe on his left foot.

Gray will have the foot ex­am­ined by doc­tors Satur­day, but “ini­tially, in the dugout, he seemed to think he’ll be fine,” man­ager Bud Black said.

Five days ago against Oak­land, Gray tweaked his foot run­ning out of the batter’s box, Black said. He pitched a reg­u­lar side ses­sion Tues­day and seemed healthy. But the Rock­ies re­moved Gray from the bat­ting lineup Fri­day in a late change, us­ing a des­ig­nated hit­ter in­stead.

“It got bet­ter, but he ag­gra­vated it,” Black said. “In­stead of try­ing to push through it, we took him out. And that’s why we went with a DH, to make sure we weren’t pick­ing at a scab.”

Gray, a 25-year-old right-han­der, breezed through two in­nings against the Gi­ants with­out al­low­ing a hit, throw­ing only eight pitches in the first and 13 in the sec­ond. But the Gi­ants bounced him around in the third. Gray gave up seven con­sec­u­tive hits af­ter strik­ing out Aaron Hill to start the in­ning. Bran­don Belt hit a three-run homer to right field.

Two bat­ters later, Gray was vis­ited on the mound by Black, ath­letic trainer Scott Gehret and pitch­ing coach Steve Foster. They walked him to the Rock­ies’ dugout and talked to him for sev­eral min­utes on the bench.

It ap­peared Gray may have suf­fered the toe in­jury on a pick­off play in the third in­ning.

“He got on his tippy-toes. Sort of a weird one,” Black said.

Af­ter reliever Matt Car­a­siti fin­ished the third in­ning, Gray walked to the Rock­ies’ club­house past right field. He didn’t ap­pear to be in pain.

Gray is lined up to pitch on reg­u­lar rest open­ing day April 3 at Mil­wau­kee. But the Rock­ies’ ro­ta­tion is al­ready stretched. They

are still look­ing for two pitch­ers to fill out their sea­son-open­ing ro­ta­tion. Chad Bet­tis started chemo­ther­apy Mon­day for a re­cur­rence of tes­tic­u­lar can­cer and lefty Chris Rusin re­mains out with an oblique in­jury.

Tyler An­der­son and Tyler Chat­wood line up af­ter Gray in the ro­ta­tion. Kyle Free­land and An­to­nio Sen­za­tela seem set to fill the two re­main­ing spots, while Ger­man Mar­quez and Har­ri­son Mus­grave still have a shot. Mar­quez will pitch Satur­day for the Rock­ies against the Cubs. Jeff Hoff­man was op­tioned to Triple-A Al­bu­querque on Thurs­day.

So the Rock­ies are play­ing cau­tious with Gray, a pre­sump­tive ace who led them in strike­outs last year. Gray was ini­tially pen­ciled in Fri­day to bat ninth. Black in­stead in­serted Alexei Amarista in left field and moved Ger­ardo Parra to first base to make Mark Reynolds the DH.

Gray has dom­i­nated his spring out­ings, com­pil­ing a 1.42 ERA in 12M in­nings, in­clud­ing 16 strike­outs and four walks. He left Fri­day’s game with five runs and seven hits al­lowed. He struck out three and didn’t is­sue a walk.

Gray wasn’t avail­able to the me­dia to talk about his in­jury af­ter the Rock­ies’ 6-5 loss to the Gi­ants. But Black re­mained op­ti­mistic.

“All in­di­ca­tions are he will be fine,” Black said.

The Rock­ies’ Jon Gray, pitch­ing dur­ing drills last month, has dom­i­nated his spring out­ings, com­pil­ing a 1.42 ERA in 12M in­nings, in­clud­ing 16 strike­outs and four walks. John Leyba, Den­ver Post file

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