CINCINNATI — A wave of emotion ran through Reds pitcher Sonny Gray’s body when he entered Great American Ball Park on Opening Day.
The 29-year-old right-hander grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and his late father, Jesse, was a huge Reds’ fan.
So when Gray was young, his dad took him to his first Major League Baseball game at Great American Ball Park.
“I remember it very vividly,” Gray said. “Then it really hit home coming over the (Ohio) River coming to the parade (on Opening Day), which was awesome. He (his dad) would be smiling right now. I guarantee he’d be at every game. This is a great thing for me and my family.
“We parked where we walked over a bridge and a river. I’ll do that at some point when stuff kind of settles down. It was one of those memories that always stay with you. That’s one that always has and always will stay with me.’’
Gray writes “Dad” under the bill of his cap in honor of his father who passed away when Gray was in high school.
“I feel like he’s always with me,” Gray said. “He’s helped me get through a lot of times when everything’s going great. And he’s also been there when times have gotten tough. He kept me in the moment and kept me with my head held high. He’s been there for me the whole ride.’’
Gray’s scheduled first start as a Red was postponed because of rain Saturday against the Pirates. The game will now be part of a May 27 day-night doubleheader.
He will now start in the 1:10 p.m. game today against the Pirates at GABP.
Gray pitched three seasons at Vanderbilt and led his team to the College World Series in 2011.
He was selected by Oakland in the first round (18th overall) of the 2011 draft.
Gray owns a career 3.66 ERA in 4 ½ seasons with Oakland and 1 ½ years with the Yankees.
In 2014 with the A’s, he went 14-10 with a 3.08.
In 2015, he was 14-7 with a 2.73. Gray made the All-Star team that year and finished third in the Cy Young voting.
But the last year and a half in New York wasn’t so kind to Gray.
Last year with the Yankees he was 11-9 with a 4.90. He struck out 123 in 130 innings.
However, Gray’s ERA in New York in 15 games was 6.98. On the road in 15 games, his ERA was 3.17.
Then, on Jan. 21 this year, the Reds sent minor league infielder Shed Long to the Yankees for Gray.
The Reds signed him to a three-year, $30.5 million deal, which runs through 2022. There’s also a club $12 million option for 2023.
Gray comes to the Reds with new starters Tanner Roark (from Washington) and Alex Wood (from the Dodgers) to bolster a rotation which compiled a frightening 5.02 ERA.
Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart has liked what he’s seen from Gray in spring training.
“Any time you bring guys in who have had that kind of experience to a rotation, it does nothing but help,” Barnhart said. “They’ve been through every situation that you can possibly think of, whether it be in the playoffs or in the regular season. So, for me, it’s kind of picking their brain and learning how they like to pitch.
“He’s (Gray) a pretty energetic guy and he really doesn’t turn the switch off very often. So from that standpoint, I don’t think I can add too much. But, with that said, he’s pitched in the American League his whole career. Me, playing in the National League my whole career and playing in the Central Division, I think I can help him and give him a little bit more from my history with teams.’’
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0468.