SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS4) – It was supposed to be a moment Jon Gray would talk about for years to come: His playoff debut.
But Gray’s first postseason game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Not as one of his greatest triumphs, but instead as the shortest and toughest outing of his career.
But five months removed from that game, and with a week of Spring Training nearly completed, Gray reflected on that outing not as one of the lowest points of his career, but as one of his greatest learning tools heading into his third full season in the majors.
“I didn’t really want to change anything,” said Gray of his mindset entering the Rockies first playoff game since 2009.
“I wanted to keep everything the same, but when the environment steps up like that, you feel the need to step up too, and you try to get bigger and better, that’s not going to help you,” said Gray.
“As much as we tried to tell Jon leading up to the game, ‘Hey, Jon pitch your game. Even though this game has great significance for us advancing, it’s still a baseball game, it’s the same one that you’ve pitched all season in. Don’t do anything more than you can do, be Jon Gray.’ He tried to be more than Jon Gray, and that doesn’t work,” said Rockies manager Bud Black.
Gray has had an entire off-season to digest what happened that night in Arizona, but according to Black his moment of reflection came instantly.
“What was great was Jon said the first words,” said Black when asked what he told Gray following the game.
“Jon said to me, ‘Buddy, I wasn’t myself. I let the magnitude of that game get to me.’ When he said that, I didn’t have to say anything,” Black said.
As Gray prepares for the 2018 season, he uses that game in Arizona as a learning tool, choosing not to forget one of the worst nights of his career, but to embrace it.
“It’s a shame, but I’m glad I was able to learn from it and not just scoop it to the side and put it in the back of my mind. I want it there. I want to remember what that feels like so that next time I’m out there I’m better prepared for it,” Gray said. “I’m so glad I learned from it and I was able to be in that position because I know we’re going to be in that position again soon.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Colorado Rockies Spring Training