Rockies Diamondbacks Baseball

Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray (55) walks off the field after giving up seven runs to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, Oct 1, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

PHOENIX — The night before the July trade deadline, Jon Gray stood on a nearly empty field at Petco Park in San Diego, staring off into the distance as his future hung in the balance.

“I just want to wear purple,” he said that night.

The Rockies ended up keeping him at the deadline. But now, as the season winds to an end, his future again is uncertain. Gray, 29, is a free agent after this season. He has made his intentions clear: he wants to remain with the Rockies, and he’d like it to be for three or four more years.

He was confident in July that he would still be with the Rockies after the deadline, and he said he has similar sentiments now as they work toward an extension.

“We’ve talked a lot internally about Jon, and with Jon,” manager Bud Black said. “Like anything, it takes two to tango. Let’s hope that things work out.”

On Friday night, Gray took the mound for possibly the last time in his beloved purple uniform. It was not the type of start he’d like to present to the Rockies, or other possible teams, as the type of pitcher he is.

Gray gave up seven runs, but the Rockies came back to beat the Diamondbacks 9-7 on Friday night. Dom Nuñez hit the home run to tie it in the top of the ninth, and Carlos Estévez got the save. 

As for Gray, he started with two quick innings, earning four strikeouts. Then the third inning hit him like a brick wall. Jake McCarthy and Geraldo Perdomo pestered him with hits, then Humberto Castellanos, the Diamondbacks starting pitcher, came up and notched his first career home run.

But the damage didn’t stop there for Gray. He gave up two more home runs and seven total runs in the third. Until Friday, he hadn’t given up more than five runs in a start. He surpassed that in just one inning.

He was removed after the fourth, his ninth start in a row of five innings or less.

“It could have been a really good year,” Gray, who finished with a 4.59 ERA, said earlier this week. “It seems like I really screwed up every start in the second half. It could have been really good games, but one inning has been terrible.”

He plans to spend the offseason analyzing his mechanics, aiming to find a way to replicate the same delivery on every pitch. Gray hasn’t been doing upper-body lifts since injuring his forearm twice this season, but he plans to pick that up again this offseason. He also wants to add acupuncture back in, which he did last season to help recover from a shoulder injury.

If the Rockies re-sign him, he’ll be part of an experienced rotation that is set for at least two more seasons. All, including Gray, have learned to tackle the challenges of pitching at Coors Field. Gray doesn't want to give up being a part of that group. 

“When success happens, it just feels really good to know you are doing it in the toughest conditions,” Gray said. “I like that battle. I like that toughness. I could go somewhere else and probably have better numbers, but I take pride in doing well here.”

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